Casey Berg is no stranger to Janesville Craig’s boys and girls soccer programs.
The 2007 Craig graduate helped lead the boys soccer team to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament in 2006 and has served as an assistant coach for the girls program since 2012.
So when longtime girls head coach Bill McCabe resigned Aug. 1, Berg was the logical choice to replace him.
Craig High athletic director Ben McCormick made the move official this week.
Berg, who played Division I soccer at UW-Green Bay, is excited for the opportunity.
“First off, I just want to thank Coach McCabe for everything he has done for me,” Berg said. “He’s not only a great coach, but he’s an even better person and a staple in Janesville as far as soccer goes.
“And I want to continue to grow build off of what he has done. That means being competitive in the Big Eight, establishing strong relationships with our players at all three levels and stressing team first.”
McCabe resigned Aug. 1 after 14 seasons as head coach. He was named the Big Eight Conference’s coach of the year in 2018 and was known for having a great rapport with all his players.
An arthritic condition was at the forefront of McCabe’s decision, but he said he is feeling better and is on the mend.
“I’ve got a form of arthritis that is very rare and only affects about one out of every 250,000 people,” McCabe said. “I was having a lot of pain in my hip, back and other joints that made it very difficult to get around.
“And with the medicine that I’m currently on, it makes me very susceptible to COVID, and if I did get it, it would not be good.
“My wife and I have really kind of stayed in close quarters through all of this, but I will say I’m feeling much better and expect to at least being around during the soccer season.”
Berg’s hire gives Craig two head coaches that played Division I soccer. Boys head coach Garrett McCabe played at UW-Milwaukee.
As an all-Big Eight performer at Craig, Berg helped lead the Cougars to the program’s only state tournament appearance in 2006. Along with teammate and fellow Division I player Kyle Pateros (Butler University), Berg lifted the Cougars to a program-best 14-win season which culminated with a state semifinal loss to Big Eight rival Madison Memorial. Berg scored a goal in Craig’s 3-0 win over Kaukauna in a state quarterfinal game.
“Kyle and I were best friends back then and are still today,” Berg said. “He was best man in my wedding. And now I get a chance to coach alongside Garrett, who was also in my wedding.
“And this year because of COVID, our seasons will overlap in the spring. We’ll be sharing the same field, and I’m sure, helping each other out as much as possible.”
Berg graduated with a history degree from UW-Green Bay in 2012 and currently teaches eighth-grade history at Marshall Middle School. He knows the history of the girls soccer program at Craig well and knows the Cougars haven’t been to state since back-to-back appearances in 1998 and 1999.
“I’m not afraid to push kids to make them the best they can be,” Berg said. “But I also know how important it is to earn the players’ respect first.
“Right now, with everything going on and having to share part of our season with the boys team, we’ll have to make some concessions. But I also want our girls to get as much work in as possible and stay active at the club level. Those two things are important if you’re going to keep moving forward as a program.”