Whitefish Bay softball united by coach's determination

WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. - You won't hear him yell and scream, but Dave Berghaus is very much in charge of the Whitefish Bay softball team.

"He's just such a light and a happy person, and you love just coming to practice after school with him because he's very carefree of himself, he always cares about us," said senior Grace Lodl. "It's like when he comes here, he just leaves everything that happens at home, and he's a new person and a bright person."

Berghaus is a pretty fortunate person, too.

On November 10, he suffered a brain aneurysm and a stroke. He was in the hospital for almost seven weeks. His family thought he might die. His softball family, and Berghaus, felt otherwise.

"I was in the hospital, and he just said, don't worry, I'll be back, I'll be back," said senior Haley Solati. "In the hospital. He was still hooked up to all of his stuff. None of us really believed it because you don''s not something you come back from."

"Hearing the news was definitely very scary when we had heard it during the winter," said junior Abby Fay. "We were definitely keeping our fingers crossed and keeping him in our prayers and everything like that."

"There's a few of them that said, had I not been here, they would not have come out," said Berghaus. "And that's flattering, but I didn't really want to hear that, and I made it."

Watch the Blue Dukes practice or play, and you will see a close group of girls who depend on each other and on their coach.

"He really is putting his heart into it," said senior Maddie Hartley. "After everything he's been through, he's kind of realized that life is short and things happen, but he comes back from it, and he rebounded from it."

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Berghaus and his doctors agreed that he would have to make some concessions to his medical situation. He can't risk getting hit in the head, so you won't see him in the third base coaching box during games and his players make sure of it.

"We've got to keep him in the dugout," Solati said. "He's a little wanderer."

"You know, there's a huge age difference there," Berghaus said. "We're different generations and that doesn't matter to them."

You've probably heard, "do what you love, and you'll love what you do." That's especially true if you were lying in a hospital bed, fighting for your life six months ago.

"He just wanted to be back, be at home, be with the team, be outside, do everything that he could do in the past," Lodl said. "And it makes me so happy to see that he actually could accomplish that because this could have gone way worse."

"Throw the age thing out of there," said Berghaus. "It's just human beings looking out for each other. That's what it is."

"I'm just proud that he gets to do what he loves, and I don't think he could live without it," said Solati.

Lodl, Solati and Hartley are among the Blue Dukes seniors who will be graduating soon. They say that the life lessons they have learned this season matter much more than any of their wins and losses.