Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-07-10
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



Basketball star dreams of a football national championship
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

She was a youngster growing up in Chicago's northwest suburbs, probably not even in middle school at the time she wrote a story for school called, "Ashley, the girl football star." It told of a girl who tried out for the Chicago Bears and that girl took over as quarterback of the Bears, replacing popular QB Jim McMahon, and leading Chicago to victory in the Super Bowl.

The story came from the mind of Ashley Berggren, who went on to an illustrious sporting career—in basketball. She was a record-setting player at Barrington High School and many of her records are still stand in the record books. She then went on to an amazing career at the University of Illinois, where she was named the first All-American and 1997 Big Ten Player of the Year, leading her team to the first-ever Big Ten Conference title. Berggren is still the second all-time leading scorer (2,061 points) at Illinois and was a three-time All-Big Ten honoree (1996, 1997, and 1998).

Berggren remains a much-talked-about local high school hoops hero, even as she prepares for her 20-year high school reunion in 2014.

Berggren graduated from Illinois is 1998, and was an inductee earlier this year into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. "It is an honor to be associated with such a fine group of women," she said.

Berggren, 36, who now lives in west suburban Naperville, hasn't forgotten her football tale, that football dream. Several years ago, she signed to play for the Chicago Force, putting her basketball high top shoes on the side for a run with black cleated football shoes. She has blossomed into one of the Force's top offensive threats.

"I am so thankful to still be able to compete at such a high level with committed teammates and coaches," Berggren said. "Football brings out the most competitive individuals who strive for excellence in everything they do. My closest friendships have all come from my participation in sports, and my fondest memories are of the times spent both on the field and off with these individuals."

Berggren has been dating Pria for five years. Pria cheers Berggren's every move in her Force uniform, along with Berggren's parents, Howard and Penny, who also attend every game. "My family and friends were extremely supportive when they realized I found someone who brought out the best in me," Berggren said of Pria.

Berggren and her 11-0 Force teammates put it all on the line Saturday, Aug. 3, when Chicago battles the Dallas Diamonds in the Women's Football Alliance (WFA) National Championship game in San Diego.

Berggren is as excited for this title game as nailing a half-court, game-winning basket.

"We have the combination of experienced veterans, exceptional talent, and quality coaching to win a national championship. Considering this is our second year in a row making it to the championship game, we have more confidence, poise and a greater understanding of what is needed to be successful," Berggren said. "Winning a national championship will be the pinnacle of my sports career. It is one thing to achieve something based on your talent alone, but it so much more gratifying when you have worked extremely hard, experienced adversity and disappointment on your journey toward achieving your goal.

"Football is a unique sport in that it truly embodies teamwork. You are held accountable at an entirely different level due to the nature of the sport. In basketball, one player has the ability to impact the game, but in football, it requires a concerted team effort in multiple facets to achieve success."

Berggren, a longtime Chicago Bears fan, tagged JJ Watt of the Houston Texans as her favorite current player. But her football memories drift back to the days of Walter Payton, her favorite former player, as well as Mike Singletary and Gary Fencik, among others.

Her personal football highlight came this past July 4, wearing her red, white and blue jersey for Team USA in a game against Germany. That U.S. team, with Berggren and many Force teammates and coaches, captured the world championship.

"I have had to overcome a lot of fears associated with playing football along with learning various skill sets associated with different positions," said Berggren, who admits she got hooked on football through the "mental and physical challenge of learning a new sport."

"I used to play football with friends growing up, but I rarely watched the game nor did I know anything about the sport before I began playing three years ago. I also love playing alongside such admirable and committed women who play the game for the pure love of the sport."

Berggren coached the Schaumburg High School girls' basketball team for four years, and also was a special education teacher at the school. She is not returning to the suburban high school in the fall and, instead, looking to expand her youth sports company (Dream Out Loud Sports, LLC) and provide quality basketball instruction to young girls ( ) in the Chicago area. Plus, she is starting an after-school program that provides outdoor, environmental, and experiential learning adventures for youth ages 8-13 ( )

"I have run youth basketball camps for the past 15 years. I am committed to exposing young girls and boys to the fundamentals of the game in a fun and inviting atmosphere," she said. "We are bringing fun back to a sports culture which has become too focused on specialization."

Chicago Force owner/GM Linda Bache tagged Berggren as "perhaps the best athlete on the team."

"She has exceptional hands, good strength and surprising speed," Bache said. "She is an accomplished athlete, having achieved great success in her basketball career. I remember watching her at her first Force practice and realizing that she was going to be a special player for us. We can use her abilities in a variety of ways on both sides of the ball. 'Berggie' is an asset on the field, off the field and in the locker room. I'm so happy she decided to pursue her childhood dream of playing football by joining the Force."

Berggren added: "In all honesty, I may be one of the more difficult athlete's to coach because of my high level of expectation for myself, my athletic background, and my experience as a teacher. I have become a far better coach since playing football, because I understand what athletes are experiencing as they're learning new concepts, and I have learned to be a better communicator. I have to commend our [Force] coaching staff for their commitment to advancing the women's game, and I'm thankful and appreciative of their dedication to making us all better football players."

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Affinity looking for program coordinator 2019-07-17 - Affinity Community Services ( ACS )—a social-justice organization serving the needs of the Black LGBTQ community of Chicago with a particular focus on ...

Gay News

Feminist theologian Dr. Mary E. Hunt kicks off DignityUSA conference 2019-07-11 - Feminist theologian Dr. Mary E. Hunt kicked off DignityUSA's three day conference, "True to the Spirit, True to Ourselves," with a keynote address ...

Gay News

Activist/author Urvashi Vaid keynotes DignityUSA event 2019-07-07 - Attorney, author and advocate Urvashi Vaid gave a keynote address at DignityUSA's three day conference, "True to the Spirit, True to Ourselves," July ...

Gay News

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP U.S. wins championship 2019-07-07 - On July 7 in Lyon, France, the United States claimed a fourth Women's World Cup triumph with a 2-0 victory over European champions ...

Gay News

Lesbian tennis player: More athletes should 'come forward' 2019-07-07 - Professional tennis player Alison Van Uytvanck told The Guardian that more of her fellow athletes should come out of the closet, according to ...

Gay News

ACS to honor Judge Pat Logue on July 23 2019-07-03 - The Chicago lawyer chapter of the progressive organization known as the American Constitutional Society (ACS) will honor several individuals at its 2019 Legal ...

Gay News

Cubs affiliate calls out Kaepernick, draws flag 2019-07-03 - The Tennessee Smokies—a minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs based in the town of Kodak—deleted and apologized for a tweet in which ...

Gay News

Back Lot Bash returns to A'ville, has family-friendly event 2019-07-02 - The woman-focused Back Lot Bash returned to the Cheetah Gym parking lot for two days of entertainment on June 29-30. On June ...

Gay News

WOMEN'S WORLD CUP U.S. beats England, advances to final 2019-07-02 - The United States is returning to the World Cup final, thanks to a 2-1 victory over England on July 2 in Lyon, France. ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Orange Is the New Black,' Jake Shears, Bob the Drag Queen, Mika 2019-07-02 - The seventh and final season of Orange Is the New Black will debut on Netflix on July 26—and it's being celebrated in a ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.