Biography: BERGMAN, Al


Inducted: 1963

Al Bergman was a man who obviously loved gymnastics.  He compiled a coaching win record that requires respect, trust, and admiration from his charges.  And, as you will read, he collaborated with a coaching friend to resurrect gymnastics programs when the Chicago Board of Education dropped gymnastics from its offerings.  Many would probably have relocated, but Al Bergman stayed, fought, and prevailed.

According to Jerry Wright, “Al started his career in physical fitness in 1918 while serving with the U.S. Army by giving daily exercises to his company.  He completed his formal schooling in 1924 when he was graduated from the American College of Physical Education (now DePaul University) in Chicago.

He coached gymnastics for 35 years (1925-1960) at Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago.  During this period his teams won 13 Board of Education Championships, seven AAU Tri-state gymnastics titles, one Illinois State title and two runner-up trophies.

He served as judge at Big Ten meets at Chicago University and at Northwestern University.  At the 30-year mark of a distinguished coaching career, Al, at Senn HS, and Henry Smidle at Lindbolm HS, rose to meet the crisis presented when the Chicago Board of Education dropped their support of the high school gymnastics program.

Arranging exhibitions and dual meets with nearby suburban coaches, they maintained and stimulated interest in the sport.  From a small nucleus of a half-dozen schools grew the 52-member Suburban HS Gymnastics League.  Following his retirement as Emeritus Teacher from Senn in 1960, Al moved to California.  In 1963 he was elected to the US Hall of Fame, a rare honor for a high school coach.”

Source: Courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. Formatted by Larry Banner, Web manager.

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