Joey Freeman SportsLine Photography Ryan Bergman
For the past five years, Ryan Bergman has been attending the Gophers’ gymnastics camps. His parents are both alums. He grew up around the coaches and always wanted to compete for the university.
So when it came down to choosing a college, the club gymnast’s decision came down to loyalty — and genetics.
“It’s in my blood, I guess,” said Bergman, a Lakeville North senior.
Those four-day camps, consisting of three practices each day and fun activities sprinkled in, helped him develop a strong relationship with the staff while honing his skills.
“It’s hard work, but we spent a lot of time with the coaches and learned a lot while we were there,” Bergman said. “I hit it off with them. I’m comfortable with them, and they’ve taught me very valuable things.”
Bergman looked at other schools but never too seriously. He recently took his official visit. A few days later, he committed. The university announced his signing last week.
Bergman is the only Minnesota native in the Gophers incoming 2014 freshman class of six, something he doesn’t take lightly. The others are from Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Texas.
“I’ll show them how to be a Gopher,” Bergman said, “because I’ve been here my whole life. I grew up with it.”
It’s that pride and enthusiasm that Gophers coach Mike Burns is even more thrilled about.
“I think it’s awesome that we have a kid whose dream is now coming true,” Burns said in a news release. “We don’t have to teach him what it means to be a Gopher. Both his parents went to school here, and he has maroon and gold blood flowing through his veins. He’ll lead the rest of the freshmen class in what it means to be a Gopher.”
Burns and his staff believe Bergman will have an impact right away. He prefers parallel bars and high bar the most, both of which he’ll probably end up doing in college, along with the pommel horse.
He’s more of a swinger than a runner and jumper.
“The swinging aspect and technique and how you move your body just always came natural to me,” he said.
Bergman started gymnastics when he was 3 years old. He’s also played baseball, football and soccer but eventually focused strictly on gymnastics when he reached high school. He competes for Classic Gymnastics, a club team in Chanhassen coached by former Gopher Andre Berry.
Bergman finished first on the rings, second in floor exercise, third on the pommel horse and second in the all-around at the 2013 boys’ state meet for the top club gymnasts.
In the U.S. Junior Olympic National Championships last spring, he placed second on parallel bars and fifth in the all-around.
Many of the other coaches, besides Berry, at Classic Gymnastics also competed for the university.
“They’ve all been great. I’ve worked with a lot of Gophers,” Bergman said.
Now he’s ready to become one.