Bertram has been named head coach of the Canadian men’s golf team for the 2015 Summer Universiade, which runs July 3-14 in Gwangju, South Korea. The sprawling multi-sport games will bring together over 12,000 athletes from 170 nations.
The head coaching job amounts to a promotion for Bertram, who served as assistant coach of the women’s team at the 2014 World University Championships in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.
“It was special for sure, and such a privilege to be a part of the national team coaching staff for a World Championship,” Bertram said, reflecting on last year’s experience in Switzerland. “Stepping into the head coaching role this year is really exciting and certainly one of the biggest thrills of my coaching career.”
Bertram’s international forays are in recognition of his success with the UFV golf program, which has emerged as a national powerhouse during his 10 years at the helm. He’s presided over seven PacWest conference championships (five for the men’s team, two for the women’s team) and eight CCAA national podium finishes, highlighted by a gold-medal sweep by the Cascades men’s and women’s teams in 2013. Since 2007, his teams have emerged victorious in 38 of 67 tournaments they’ve entered, good for an eye-popping 57 per cent win rate.
Bertram’s three-man roster for the Universiade will be comprised of the top three finishers from the upcoming Golf Canada University/College Championship, which runs May 26-29 in Guelph, Ont. That means there’s a chance one of his Cascades players could qualify to join him in South Korea, most notably Aaron Pauls, a member of Canada’s 2014 World University Championships squad. Pauls, the reigning UFV male athlete of the year, placed 17th individually while helping Team Canada finish fifth, its best-ever result.
“Aaron and I have shared some pretty great experiences over the past few years at UFV – conference championships, national championships, world championships – and this one would maybe top them all,” Bertram said. “The main reason I would like to see Aaron on the team is that I know how good he is and what an asset he would be at an event like this. The spotlight and the pressure will be on these players and someone with Aaron’s ability, experience and composure is what every coach would want. But the competition in Guelph for those three spots is going to be tough, so we will have to wait and see how it all plays out.”
The Summer Universiade is an international multi-sport event that takes place every two years and is second only to the Olympic Games in the number of participating athletes and countries. The Universiade is open to competitors who are at least 17 and less than 28 years of age as of Jan. 1 in the year of the Games. Participants must be full-time students at a post-secondary institution (university, college, CEGEP) or have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the year preceding the event.
“What I learned last year, first and foremost, is that our Canadian university golfers can compete on the world stage,” Bertram said. “The men’s team finished fifth, but were only a bounce or two on the final day away from the podium. Looking around at the talent pool in the country at present, I see no reason why we shouldn’t be in the hunt again this year.”