Gallaudet University celebrates Thomas O. Berg, names track in his honor
WASHINGTON, D.C. – It was an emotional and joyous occasion Tuesday, April 17, as Gallaudet University celebrated the legendary career of the late Thomas O. Berg, ’44, who coached the cross country and track and field programs for 30 years at Kendall Green. The GU Athletics Department held a luncheon and ribbon cutting ceremony to honor Berg by naming the track in his name, Thomas O. Berg Track at Hotchkiss Field.
Berg’s widow Betty Berg, E-’47, and her three children Frederick Berg, David Berg and Jennifer Howell along with other family members and friends were present for the ceremony.
The renaming of the facility was approved by the Gallaudet Recognition Committee and President T. Alan Hurwitz, and supported by contributions from alumni and friends of the University to the Bison Athletics Enhancement Fund.
“This is really humbling for us. My father was a humble man. He would be overwhelmed to see this day,” said Berg’s oldest son Frederick. “This is a great honor. It was such a privilege for me to have him as my dad.”
The luncheon featured many speakers recounting their stories and experiences with Coach Berg. Four Gallaudet University Hall of Famers led the way including GU Board of Trustee member James MacFadden, ’62, former Bison “Iron Man” Donald Padden, ’45, Berg’s assistant coach Robert (Bob) Corbett, ’63, and Dr. Donalda Ammons, ’74. Dr. Hurwitz, Dr. Lynne Murray, PhD ’08, Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations and Michael Weinstock, ’81 & G-’94, Athletic Director thanked the Berg family along with the gathered friends and supporters of Bison Athletics for attending and supporting this project. Former GU track and field coach Thomas Withrow, ’82, was a student-athlete under Berg spoke about his memories of his late coach. Jennifer Howell, Berg’s daughter, spoke on behalf of the family during the luncheon before the group headed to the track for the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Thomas O. Berg, took the track and field program at Gallaudet University to the next level during his legendary 30-year career. His fingerprints are still visible to this day. When you look at the men’s and women’s track and field records today there are dozens of records still standing that were set by the student-athletes he coached. Berg’s footprint was not limited to Kendall Green as he started his career at the high school level and led the United States of America Deaf Track and Field program for over 30 years from 1957 until 1989, a span of eight different Deaflympics. His athletes at the Deaflympics earned nearly 300 medals, half of which were gold medals, during his time at the helm. Berg, himself, was an excellent track and field athlete at Gallaudet as he set the javelin school record in 1943, a mark that stood for over 35 years. He was inducted to American Athletics Association for the Deaf (AAAD) Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Gallaudet University Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1997, to honor his many contributions to the field of sports education for deaf students, Gallaudet presented Berg with an honorary doctorate degree.
Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, diverse, multicultural institution of higher education that ensures the intellectual and professional advancement of deaf and hard of hearing individuals through American Sign Language and English. Gallaudet maintains a proud tradition of research and scholarly activity and prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a highly competitive, technological, and rapidly changing world. For more information about Gallaudet University please log onto www.gallaudet.edu.