CEDAR RAPIDS – He knows as much about a Steinway as he does support play. He can tickle the ivories almost as well as he can tickle the twine.
Austin Bergstrom isn’t your ordinary all-American prep soccer player. He was Cedar Rapids Washington’s starting point guard in basketball this winter and a member of the Warriors’ golf team last fall.
Then there’s this other passion of his.
“I’ve played the piano since I was 6,” Bergstrom said. “I really enjoy that. That’s something that I want to keep doing through college and on. I’m an all right player, I guess. I work on it a lot.”
Religiously, once a week, the well-rounded senior rises from bed at 6 a.m. and heads to a pre-school piano lesson with a former neighbor lady of his family’s. It’s close to Washington High School, so he’s always able to get to his first class on time.
The lessons occur during soccer season and outside of soccer season. Whether it’s cold and snowy or hot and humid.
“At an early age, my mom and dad got me involved in a lot of things,” Bergstrom said. “I enjoyed them all and kept doing the things that I could keep doing.”
Such as soccer. This past December, he was named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s high school boys’ all-American team, the only Iowa prep honored.
He’s the first all-American at Washington, where he has started every game since he was a freshman. He’s the Warriors’ center midfielder, though a defender on his club and Olympic Development Program teams.
“Not too many kids from Iowa make an all-American team,” said Washington Coach J.P. Graham. “No one in our program has ever done it, and to say he’s the first is wonderful. He’s a great kid and works hard. He’s very coachable. I know in basketball this year he really made strides and was their defensive shutdown guy, and that was fun to watch. He’s willing to do what it takes for the team in every sport.”
“Every year, I’m trying to step it up and get better,” Bergstrom said. “Be a leader, talk to kids, make sure everybody knows what to do on and off the field. Just trying to do everything I can to make sure things go our way.”
Washington should have a strong club with Bergstrom and fellow all-stater Kimu Kasha around. The Warriors are ranked 12th in Class 3A in the Iowa Soccer Coaches Association’s preseason poll.
Bergstrom’s younger brother, Augie, also should play a lot. A tiny freshman, Augie Bergstrom weighs “about 80 pounds,” Graham joked.
Augie should get bigger as he gets older because Austin grew taller from last season and also has gotten stronger. He plans to visit Ohio State soon, where he hopes he’ll play next year.
“If you can be a defender with his kind of skills, that’s great. That’s what people are looking at him for,” Graham said. “He keeps really good control of the ball. He’s really good at helping his teammates get out of trouble, out of pressure, because he’s the one who is comfortable with having the pressure on him.
“Sometimes we rely on him too much for that. Everybody gets in trouble and they just play it to him, expecting him to do something with the ball. This year, he’s gotten a little bit taller and stronger, so his shot has improved immensly. I’m eager to see him shoot a little more this year.”