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Berg dives into the fire

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Reynolds High graduate Brodie Berg went from a state champion golfer to a fire fighter in Salt Lake City. Here he (in sunglasses) is seen atop of fire engine with his family that includes wife Nicole and seven children. Brodie Berg remembers it well. Standing on the green on the ninth hole at Glendoveer Golf Course trying to sink a pebbled white ball into a four-inch wide hole that sat uphill two car lengths away. He was only halfway through his final round, but his high school dream of a state championship hung in the balance.

Berg entered the final day three shots off the pace. He needed to make up ground. The Reynolds High senior needed to sink some big shots.

The photo in the next day’s paper tells the story. It shows him pumping his fist, while walking off the green. The 30-footer had dropped for birdie.

“I remember it vividly,” Berg says. “That was the moment where I knew my game was going well. I just had to keep pushing and make some more birdies.”

He continued to roll through the back nine and felt he was in position to win as he stepped onto the tee box for the 18th hole — a long straight fairway was in front of him, but he also noticed the traffic driving down Glisan out of bounds along the left side.

“There is no leaderboard, so you never know what the rest of the field is doing,” Berg said. “I wanted to stay aggressive, but I didn’t want to hit my ball into the road either.”

The whack of the club came through cleanly, and his tee shot landed on the front edge of the green. A two-putt for birdie ended his round with a 70 — two strokes better than anyone else that day.

Berg finished the tournament (1990) with a two-day 145, tying Sunset’s Dave Lebeck for the title — both one stroke ahead of Berg’s playing partner in that final round, Casey Martin out of South Eugene.

More than 20 years later, Berg gets out on the golf course a few times each season.

The passion that fueled a successful college career and several seasons on the professional tour has been replaced by vigor for family and fire fighting.

Berg, 41, married Nicole four years ago, and the blended family includes seven children ages 3 through 14.

“Life has got a lot more fun in it,” Berg says. “Now golf is something that maybe I get to and maybe I don’t.”

After serving as a golf pro at the Bear Lake Resort in Idaho and managing a series of Subway sandwich shops, Berg took on the challenge of becoming a fire fighter two years ago after volunteering on a search and rescue team. He survived a three-month boot camp in Salt Lake. A time of testing that saw nine applicants start the process. One dropped out during orientation and two more didn’t finish the camp.

“It’s a lot of intense training. They put you through the ringer,” Berg says. “They only want the ones who are really dedicated to it. It’s the best job you could ask for, but you have to have the right personality for it.”

Berg works largely within Salt Lake City protecting buildings and answering emergency calls. His most memorable blaze came at the site of a homeless camp that gathered near a car dealership.

“It got windy and took the flames quickly through the grass. Before it was done, 40 cars had gone up in smoke,” Berg says. “You’ve got air bags going off and tires exploding. It’s 100 degrees in the middle of the day, and we’re out there in full gear trying to protect other businesses from going up. Definitely one I will always remember.”

Berg played at Brigham Young University, helping the Cougars to the NCAA tournament and a No. 13 ranking during his collegiate career.




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