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Lauren Bergstrom makes her mark
By Annalise Venhuizen

Lauren BergstromSetting two school records is enough to ensure that any athlete will be remembered. After having done just that, however, junior Lauren Bergstrom isn’t boasting about the mark she will leave on Calvin track and field but about the mark that the program will leave on her.

Bergstrom had no hesitations about joining track; she came to Calvin knowing she was “born to run.” Her three seasons on track and her two seasons on cross country have continually confirmed her convictions. Most recently she reset the school record for the 1,500-meter run and established a new record in the 800-meter run, breaking her own best time.

Over the last two seasons, Bergstrom has gradually made the switch from 400s to longer distances. Her involvement in cross country helped her with this transition. “It helped strengthen me to be the runner in track I am now. The community of the cross country team helped me feel connected to the running community,” Bergstrom said.

Building a sense of community in track is a bit more of challenge, according to Bergstrom. “Track is different than cross country in the sense that it’s more individually based with a variety of people competing in so many different events.” Yet Bergstrom feels that this season the track team was incredibly unified through “teamwork, encouragement and support. There was a continual rejoicing in other peoples’ accomplishments.

“Something Coach [Rick] Otte always says to us makes a lot of sense: In track we are one body of many parts,” Bergstrom said.

Coaches Brian Diemer and Al Hoekstra, the head and assistant coach of cross country, help with the distance track runners as well. “Diemer and Hoekstra are both really fired up and provide so much wisdom. They know what type of runner I was and put me in events I would excel at.”

Though Bergstrom, according to her coaches, has always possessed “the natural instinct” of a runner, believing in herself as a runner has developed with training. “With the transition to college athletics, I’ve grown a lot not only physically but also emotionally,” Bergstrom said. “My confidence has grown so much as I’ve started believing in my abilities and running not just for myself but to glorify God and inspire teammates.”

The shift in perspective from self to others is a result of the leadership responsibilities she has gained as an upperclassman.“Just as training is a gradual process and takes time for our bodies to develop, confidence takes time,” Bergstrom said. “It takes getting to know teammates, developing leadership skills and running for more than just yourself.”

Bergstrom’s feelings about holding two school records remain consistent with that shifted perspective: “It makes me feel honored to represent Calvin in that way. It’s very special to be in that position.”

Representing Calvin was one of Bergstrom’s goals for the national meet. She qualified in the 800 and 1,500 and was also part of Calvin’s national-bound 1,600-meter relay. “It’s an exhilarating feeling to be out on the track representing my school and my team,” she said.

The role of Calvin student athlete has left its marks on Bergstrom, who stated that coming to Calvin “was not supposed to happen.” She had been planning to attend another college until the track coach resigned, leaving her open to other options. Some friends from her church told her about Calvin, so she visited: “It felt like home. It just clicked for me. Looking back I see it was another area that God was working on in my life.”

Looking forward, Bergstrom hopes to combine her interest in athletics with her desire “to make a difference in kid’s lives.” She will remain in Grand Rapids this summer and work with the Wyoming (Mich.) Parks and Recreation Department to lead children’s activities, a job that fits perfectly with her major in community recreation. “I’m excited about this active engagement with kids,” Bergstrom said. “That will answer a lot of my questions about my career path.”

Wherever she goes after a final year at Calvin, Bergstrom will take with her the marks of her experiences on athletic teams. “Sports have helped strengthen my faith. It’s more than just running; it’s a life-growing experience.”