Yoakum players to help former coach
how TO HELP:
• Make donations to Yoakum National Bank to the Paula Berger Benefit.
Competing in the Yoakum gym to play volleyball became more than just a game for Jessica Pohler.
Pohler was one of the many players former coach Paula Berger worked with for 30 years as the varsity coach. Pohler believed volleyball was more than a sport to Berger.
"She taught us about volleyball, but she taught us about life - what's right from wrong," Pohler said. "It was about integrity and teamwork and being a leader."
Saturday, Berger will be on the minds of players during the Yoakum alumni volleyball event and 5K run. The proceeds go to help Berger, who was diagnosed with cancer.
"My ultimate goal was to come back and be a successful coach," said Alisha Boysen, who became the varsity coach in 2012. "She (Berger) made you want to be a better person. You never wanted to let her down."
Boysen, who along with other former players started the event, played under Berger from 2000 to 2003.
Berger left the team in 2011 to become an elementary school teacher in Yoakum.
"I wanted to carry on what she did," Boysen said. "I wanted to do an alumni game and help defray the costs. She's given so much. I thought, 'Why not?'"
Though Pohler graduated in 2006 and did not get into coaching after high school, she recalled words of wisdom from Berger.
"She made me grow up as a person," said Pohler, who works as a human resources specialist in Yoakum. "I wanted to be successful. She definitely helped me get there. She was more than just a coach; she was more like family."
Volleyball changed Katelyn Rohan.
The former three-year varsity player remembered Berger made a highlight tape of Rohan to send out to college coaches. The video earned her a spot at Blinn College, where she played for one year.
"She's been my role model," said Rohan, who played from 2004 to 2008. "I got really close with her. It's heartbreaking what she's dealing with."
While Saturday's alumni event will be an all-day affair featuring nine teams, all participating understand why they're there.
"She built a program from the ground up," Pohler said. "She gave up time with her family. We wanted to give something to her. She made quite an impact."