Josh Bergey enjoying life on sidelines Marple Newtown rookie lacrosse coach says the Tigers are on their way to contending.

Posted: May 07, 2005

Baseball cap on backward, shades over his eyes, and a smile glued to his face, Josh Bergey had the contented look of a high school lacrosse coach, no matter how his resume reads.

In this current and apparently permanent stage in his life, Bergey seems very much in his element as the Marple Newtown rookie head coach. At least that's what he's been telling himself.

"It's been a challenge," Bergey, the son of a Philadelphia football icon, said yesterday after his team's game with Central League rival Radnor. "But I'm teaching the kids as well as learning from them. It's a whole different bunch of personalities . . . but we're all learning from each other."

For Bergey, 26, relating to his players hasn't been a problem, nor has motivating them. Those traits, it could be presumed, he inherits from his father, former Eagles linebacker and franchise radio rooter Bill Bergey.

Yet Josh draws more on the example of his older brother, 31-year-old Wings assistant captain Jake Bergey. Both are products of small, private football and lacrosse programs at Tatnall School in Wilmington, Del. Both went on to play in college, then professionally indoors in the MLL.

"When you play for a private school, everybody thinks, 'Oh, they're just a bunch of little rich kids,' " said Bergey. "But we had to play against schools like Salesianum, an all-boys' school with hundreds of kids. What we lacked in skill and numbers we made up for in heart and that's what I'm trying to instill in these guys."

"He's the most enthusiastic coach we ever had," said Marple Newtown's Nick Bellenzini.

This younger Bergey is also reviving his playing career, even though he seems bent on establishing more permanent roots. While he took a leave from his indoors team, the San Jose Stealth, to prepare for this gig as a coach at Marple Newtown, Josh is also preparing to be part of a start-up outdoors operation - Philly's latest pro sports franchise, the Barrage.

And in moving back East with wife Katie and new son Austin Joshua, Bergey is hopeful for a trade to an Eastern MLL team, preferably to the Wings for a reunion with Jake.

Ask him about all that exciting news to come, and the conversation will quickly turn back to this five-win Tigers team, which yesterday came back from a four-goal halftime deficit to tie, only to lose by 11-10 on a goal by Radnor junior Jim Mahady with 3 minutes, 3 seconds left in regulation.

Chris Ehlinger added four goals for Radnor, while the Tigers were led by Jeff Benner's five goals and sparkling play by Matt Videon.

Bergey noted that those players are far from where he first encountered this Marple Newtown team, which was in the middle of the Governor's Cup three years ago. According to Bergey, the Tigers coach walked during the tournament, so as one of the organizers, he volunteered to take over.

"We won the next five games," Bergey said. Now the appointment is a permanent one, and he's looking to chart a similar course of success.

"I wouldn't rather be anywhere else than Marple," said Bergey. "I like the strides we've taken not only as a lacrosse team but as a bunch of guys. These kids have been kicked around. Now I see them contending and I think in a year or two we're going to have this program exactly where we want it."

Contact suburban staff writer Rob Parent at 610-313-8025 or rparent@phillynews.com.

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