Long-time Central coach takes helm at Christian Life

By Jason Arndt
Editor

After what transpired last season, Charlie Berg did not envision coaching varsity girls volleyball, but his sights changed when he met with Kenosha Christian Life this summer.

Charlie Berg

Berg, of Bristol, spent more than 30 years as the head girls volleyball coach at Westosha Central High School, where he guided the Falcons to five WIAA Division 1 state championships.

His tenure, however, came to an abrupt end in 2016 after the Falcons were barred from the WIAA Division 1 tournament when officials discovered the team violated a bylaw.

The violation, playing in one too many tournaments, led to his dismissal from the Falcons athletic program.

“I really had no intention of coaching this fall. It was a difficult time for me after my release from Central, so I was prepared not to do any coaching,” said Berg, who still has adoration for the players on the team. “I still care very deeply for the players at Westosha and I wish them the best.”

According to Berg, a Wisconsin Juniors club volleyball coach, an encounter with another coach at a practice gave him a new perspective.

The encounter, Berg said, involved the vacant coaching position at Kenosha Christian Life, where Heidi Tennyson stepped after eight seasons.

Upon learning of the vacancy, he contacted Christian Life School, which set up an interview at the building east of Interstate 94.

When they offered him the job, Berg mulled over the opportunity with his wife, Julie, his son, Evan, and daughter Jena.

Once he received the blessing of his family, the Eagles’ schedule played a role, noting Christian Life does not play Westosha Central.

“I knew that it was a conference in Division III and that they did not play Westosha,” he said. “I wanted to pursue this once my family and I talked about this.”

“I wanted to finished my long career on my terms, and not on someone else’s decision for me to end my career.”

The assurance of Christian Life school administrators, he said, was another reason.

“They were excited and wanted to come out and support our team every chance they got,” Berg said.

Clean slate
For the first time in his career, Berg is in transition, which he acknowledged is a challenge.

His challenge is less burdensome, considering the Eagles finished 27-10 overall and 7-1 in the Midwest Classic Conference last year, when they finished in second place.

Overall, under Heidi Tennyson’s tenure, Christian Life has accumulated a 203-99 record in eight seasons.

“The philosophy of hard work, commitment, communication and team chemistry will still be the foundation of the program. This program with the former coach has been well established and I thank her for that,” Berg said. “I am not here to drastically change things that have already been established.”

With a foundation in place, Berg plans to bring in two coaches from Wisconsin Juniors, his son as varsity assistant and Kaitlyn Larson as junior varsity coach.

Berg, who reiterated a strong foundation, only seeks to improve the team’s efficiency on the court.

“We are not going to drastically change a lot, but just add our coaching touches to an already existing good program,” he said.

Getting acclimated
Unlike previous years, Berg finds himself getting to know players and opponents alike, noting his decades of experience at Division I Westosha Central.

“The schedule is going to be different for me, since Westosha never really played most of the school in this conference or some of the teams that we will play,” he said. “It will take awhile for the girls to get to know me, and for me to get to know them and what will work best for us.”

However, if his first visits are an indication, Berg believes him and his coaching staff are ready.

“So far the reception has been excellent. They players have been very receptive to me and the parents that I have met have been very cordial and welcoming,” Berg said.

As Berg enters his first season, he made on schedule change, bowing out of a Kenosha Tremper tournament where the Falcons have been traditional participants.

“Playing Westosha would be an awkward situation for me, and I’m sure it would be for Central as well,” he said. “Sitting on the opposite bench and knowing those parents and players would be extremely uncomfortable.”

 
 

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