IOWA CITY — Steve Bergman is the head coach. Probably.
Though it could be Paul Rundquist. Perhaps they’re co-head coaches.
No one really seems to be quite sure.
“We’re working that out,” Runquist said, diplomatically, when that subject was brought up last week. “Ask Coach. It has been discussed. But whatever Coach wants is fine.”
The bottom line here is there are so many good basketball minds on the bench this season at Iowa City West, it’s riduculous. Beyond ridiculous.
Bergman has won six state championships with the Trojans. Rundquist has one at Mount Pleasant, where he spent 18 seasons and regularly sent teams to the state tournament before coming to West this school year.
Don’t forget about Gordon Rundquist, Paul’s dad. Like Bergman, he is in the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Basketball Hall of Fame as a coach.
Known best for his very successful tenure at Maquoketa Valley, where he coached his son, Gordon Rundquist moved to Iowa City after retiring from teaching to assist Bergman. Combined, these three basketball behemoths have 90 seasons of head coaching experience.
Their combined record is 1,432-591. That’s astounding.
“I think it will be a wonderful experience,” Gordon Rundquist said. “I’m really looking forward to it. Paul brings forth a lot to our table. His kids played so hard all the time, and, hopefully, that will translate into our game, too. We’re looking forward to it.”
Bergman, 60, retired from teaching after the 2017-18 school year but decided he wanted to coninue to coach. How long is a question he can’t, or won’t, answer right now.
Who eventually will take over for him at West? Bergman doesn’t have full say in the matter, but he wants it to be Paul Rundquist.
Rundquist got Bergman’s physical education teaching position. An applicant and interviewee for multiple Class 4A jobs over the years, sources say Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy were among them, he finally decided to make the leap to West.
“I loved it in Mount Pleasant,” Rundquist said. “But the opportunity to coach with my father is something I really couldn’t pass up. My wife and I, we love the Iowa City area ... To be able to coach with two hall of fame coaches, you are never too old to learn. I’ve known Coach Bergman since I was, like, 5 years old. A long time. So just very thankful for the opportunity. It has been fun.”
“I’ve known Paul for a long time,” Bergman said. “He had (the same Mount Pleasant varsiy kids) for four years in a row, then they were seniors, and he was going to start over. So I just threw it out there, kind of recruited him. Spent a lot of time on the phone with him. To get a guy of Paul’s experience to come in and help and take over eventually ... that’d be my plan, but I’m not in charge. I think that’s pretty good.”
During a jamboree last week in Cedar Rapids, Bergman seemed to be the guy mostly in charge. He was the one standing up on the sideline during play and interacting most heavily with the players during timeouts.
But he insists this is not solely his show. Bergman leaned heavily on Rundquist over the summer and into the fall as he recovered from a case of Lyme Disease.
He said he still doesn’t quite feel 100 percent physically.
“Paul brings a little more energy,” Bergman said. “We had a fairly old staff last year, so he’s just got energy, believes in our style, has played our style somewhat. I told him not to ever be afraid to bring up anything. It’s not going to bother me. I’m ready to give him more and more responsibility. Because the older you get, the harder it is. Last year was a real drag. Just physically, by the end of the year, I was dead.”
West was 4A state runner-up last season and appears to have another state tournament caliber club this season, with the likes of Iowa signee Patrick McCaffery, Iowa City Regina transfer Even Brauns, Waterloo West transfer Nick Pepin and others.
Then you’ve got the caliber of coaching these kids will receive.
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“I knew I wanted to coach this year,” Bergman said. “I kind of promised Patrick that when he came (to West), decided to play for West. I kind of made it my goal last year to try and find somebody to work with me for a year, and then we’ll see.
“Nobody’s made a big deal out of it. I don’t want to make a big deal out of it, because I had a lot of fun this week in practice. This is kind of a fun team to coach right now. Not just because of the talent, but I like the kids. But, honestly, at a certain point, we’ll just keep talking about (the future). This is new for both of us. But he’s doing a lot of good things. Then you’ve still got dad there, too. That’s pretty good in practice.”
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