ARLINGTON, Texas – UTA track and field associate head coach Brandon Berger is serving as the jumps and throws coach for Team USA at the 2017 World Para Athletics Junior Championships this week in Nottwil, Switzerland.
Berger, who has coached at his alma mater for more than a decade, has mentored nearly 90 all-conference performers and more than 20 conference individual champions during his time.
Included in that group is recent UTA graduate Tobi Fawehinmi. Last month, Fawehinmi earned a gold medal in the triple jump and a bronze medal in the long jump at the World Para Athletics Championships in London, England.
“It’s really an honor to be a part of Team USA,” Berger said. “I had just been talking to Tobi about exploring a chance to coach para athletes when the call came. To get a chance to work with these athletes and get a different perspective on life and coaching is extremely rewarding. It makes you appreciate more of what you have.”
Berger will be mentoring five athletes, four girls and one boy, ranging in ages from 14-18. Three of the athletes will compete in jumps (as well as sprints), while two will compete in throwing events, including the shot put, discus and javelin.
In June, Berger spent time at a week-long training camp in California working with his athletes, establishing both personal and coaching bonds.
“It’s just a fantastic honor to represent your country as a coach,” UTA coach John Sauerhage said. “We are very proud of Brandon. He did a tremendous job working with Tobi, and will do the same with these athletes.”
Fawehinmi was named the 2017 Sun Belt Conference Most Outstanding Field Athlete after winning the triple jump in the indoor season. He also set a world para record in the triple jump (50-11) during his time in Arlington.
“It’s been so good to be around an athlete with a disability,” Berger said. “He goes through life as if he doesn’t have one. These athletes have struggles, but they don’t dwell on them. Track has opened up an avenue for them, and for Tobi, I know it has helped him move on and grow as a person.”
Opening ceremonies are set for Thursday with closing ceremonies taking place on Sunday night. Berger’s athletes will compete on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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