By Tiffany Sweeney

Vance Von Bergen is a man that prefers to work behind the scenes in small town Montana, but that changed as he took the spotlight as the 2022 Athletic Director of the Year.

Twenty-seven years ago, Von Bergen began his journey in education by student teaching in Stanford in fifth grade. The following year, he took a permanent residence and a sixth grade teaching position. Over the years, he has taught a variety of classes including upper elementary, high school physical education and health, and driver’s education. He stepped into the role of coach at all levels, through basketball and football. Yet his calling came seventeen years ago when he took the job as Athletic Director. Initially, he was driven to the role to help provide some stability. He has stayed because of the community.

In small towns across Montana, school sports play a key role. It is school sports that bond the residents together. People come to the games as a form of entertainment, and strong loyalties to home teams are the result. Through sports, students find a place to belong and avoid trouble. Von Bergen believes strongly in all of this, even despite the decline that has occurred over the years.

His community, like many others across the state, has seen a decline in the student population, resulting in some schools not having enough students for a team. He was integral in creating a team cooperative across districts to keep the sports alive. The historical loyalty has created complications with the new teams and mascots. VonBergen encourages the communities to “let go of the rivalries” and support these opportunities that keep the kids on the courts and fields.

Von Bergen is looking forward to blending into the background once again as the 2023 nominees are put forth. He speaks with passion about continuing to improve programs, to provide opportunities to the students through athletics, to allow coaches to reap the benefits of coaching, and to let the parents have a voice. He is excited to keep the sports alive!

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