By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Bethany Berger will always have a huge place in her heart for the state of Missouri, Nixa High School Eagles and the Mizzou Tigers.
After moving to Tennessee to attend Tipton-Rosemark Academy in 2012, Berger had to make room for a new community, a much smaller school and a new way of life. Along with parents Linda and Jack Berger, Bethany had to make the adjust to life in the Volunteer State with three familiar things — volleyball, basketball and softball.
Before Berger stepped on campus her name was popping up in athletic circles.
“I had family at Rosemark,” she recalled. “They kind of came in saying, ‘She plays three sports. She’s going to come.’ But then the first few days I came for practices the coaches were like, ‘This is your role. This is what you need to do.’ I remember Shari (Armour) saying, ‘You’re going to be the team captain,’ on the first day of practice.
“I had every high expectations coming into a brand new school,” Berger continued. “I took it on as, ‘Let’s go.’ I was coming from a huge school. Coming to a real small school, it almost felt natural to be a leader.”
Over the next three years, the sophomore from Missouri blossomed into a leader, coach on the floor, champion and winner of prestigous awards like Best of the Preps Private School Female Athlete of the Year and Journal West 10 Media Female Athlete of the Year.
Berger lived up the expectations place on her before she suited in the red, white and blue of the Lady Rebels. Coming from Nixa High School, Berger was part of a class of 600 students. When she graduated this past May from Rosemark, she was one of 47 in the class.
Back in 2012 under Head Volleyball Coach Wendy Porter, Berger quickly made an impact as an setter, outside hitter and leader. Rosemark faithful quickly saw Berger was living up to the hype.
“It was kind of pressure,” she acknowledged. “People would say, ‘Are you as good in basketball as you are in volleyball? Are you as good as your are in softball as volleyball and basketball?’ But actually each coach was good at, ‘We just need you to be athletic.We know you can do it. We just need you be able to perform.’
“There was kind of some pressure but the coaches were really, really good about saying we believe in you,” Berger added.
The girl wearing the No. 22 for volleyball and basketball was making headlines across the Mid-South and impressing coaches on her side and the opposition.
Then she put on her No. 4 jersey for softball and continued to impress. Berger said she has countless memories after three years playing three sports for the Lady Rebels.
“My best memory in volleyball probably my sophomore year, my first year, coming into a program that was new for everybody,” she said. “We had a brand new coach. And they just graduated their two or three big senior leaders. And so I remember when I walked in Coach Porter told me tryouts have already gone through.
“She said I’ll take a look at you and this is a no-promises type of thing,” Berger continued. “As soon as the tryout was over with she said, ‘Ok, well we have practice tomorrow. We would love for you to come.’ That was probably something that sticks out in my mind. We’ve become really close and we text all the time.”
Berger, Porter and the rest of the Lady Rebel Volleyball team grew together leading to a winning record and some postseason wins.
In basketball, Berger started with Shari Armour as head coach and concluded with Keith Cox. No matter who was the coach on the sideline, Berger was the point guard and coach on the floor using her athleticism to direct the TRA attack.
“Probably my best memory in basketball is when we beat St. George’s, senior year,” she recalled. “Because of the fact we had Coach Cox coming in who was really adiment and really passionate about changing the program.
“He kept drilling in our heads, ‘If you work hard, it’s going to pay off,’ Berger added. “And then going into that game we were like, ‘We can do this. We know we can.’ That was the first time in history Rosemark has beaten St. George’s for us. It was a really big moment not only for me, but for the rest of the team and especially him.”
Berger said along with Coach Cox, she was motivated to win for Softball Head Coach Johnie Sanfratello. After playing one season under Joe Layton, Berger and the Lady Rebels were taken over by Sanfratello in 2014.
“Definitely winning a State championship in 2014 in my best softball memory,” she said. “That team and that coaching staff that year, I’ve played on a lot of teams. I’ve had a lot coaches. That was by far the best atmosphere I’ve ever been around on a team.”
So with all TRA sports now occupying a place in her heart, Berger had a tough time picking which one was her best.
“I really don’t know,” she said. “The one I probably standout the most is basketball. The one I enjoy playing the most is volleyball. The most rewarding was softball.”
After rewarding TRA with her talents and skills for three years, Berger has picked up a few awards and lifetime of memories. She is now heading to The University of Memphis to major in nursing. She decided to stay in the Memphis area because she has build many special connections here.
But she will always have Missouri nearby with her big brother and role model Morris Berger as a recruiting assistant at Mizzou. He would always send his sister a text after a game and get updates.
Those texts and calls bridge both worlds together for Bethany.
“In all honesty, my brother was No. 4 going throughout all his sports,” Berger concluded. “He played three sports. He played football, basketball, baseball and did some golf too while he was in high school. It was some of I always wanted to be like him. But not exactly like him. So I did the 22 because two plus two equals four.