Dec. 1, 2006
Then, when you look at where Valmon has been and where Berger is headed, you can't help but be impressed.
The coaching-athlete combination of Valmon and Berger has been quite successful over the past two years, in large part because the two are so similar.
Andrew Valmon, the head coach of the University of Maryland track and field team, is a two-time Olympic Gold medalist, was a member of 13 U.S. National teams and earned gold medals at the Goodwill Games and the World Championships.
Now, Valmon's commitment to winning has transferred to bringing Maryland track and field back to prominence, and the addition of Dominic Berger to the program has done just that.
Berger, a junior hurdler from Mitchellville, Md., is a graduate of athletic powerhouse DeMatha High School. When recruiting Berger, Valmon knew he had something special, and not only because of the highschooler's athletic ability.
"He was involved with a lot of community service and other leadership extra curricular activities," Valmon said. "At the time, I was trying to bring in kids to help restore the tradition of Maryland track and field."
Last season alone, Berger's list of accomplishments was astounding. He has walked off the podium at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships as an All-American and second-place finisher. He became the first male Terrapin since 1987 to achieve All-America status and placed fifth at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. And over the summer, Berger added international champion to his long list of accomplishments, by finishing first at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) under-23 championships.
Obviously then, it is quite clear why Valmon's main request for Berger heading into the 2006-2007 season, is to "start up where he left off."
"Individually, I want to repeat as indoor and outdoor ACC champion and become the NCAA national champion," Berger said. "Obviously, I'd also like to break a few indoor and outdoor records along the way."
But another part of what makes Berger such a vital member of the track and field program is his understanding of the tradition that goes along with the program.
"I chose to come to Maryland because of its great academic standards and traditions, but it was also important to me to be apart of Coach Valmon's mission to restore Maryland's rich track and field tradition and prestige." And that tradition has already begun to make its way back to the University of Maryland.
Former NCAA Coach of the Year Frank Costello is an assistant on the Maryland staff who works directly with the hurdlers, including Berger. As head coach of the men's track and field team from 1975-80, Costello led the Terps to six consecutive indoor ACC Championships, five consecutive outdoor ACC titles and an eighth-place finish at the national championships. As an athlete at Maryland, he was also a two-time national champion in the high jump.
"Before he's done here, Berger is a potential Olympian, no question," Costello said. "He is a great athlete and if he continues to work hard, he will be an Olympic caliber athlete."
Working hard is nothing new for Berger or Valmon, who will continue to work together to make Berger the best athlete he can be. And as Berger continues to rake in more accolades, the final piece of the duo's puzzle will also fall into place, and Maryland track and field will make its mark and return to the national stage.