The 2019-20 Faith Academy of Marble Falls girls basketball team finished third in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 3A state tournament. The squad is (front row, from left) players Anna Gurganus (front row, left), McKenzie Ahrlett, Hannidy Shipley, and Kendall Mason and (back row, from left) head coach Larry Berkman, players Christian Wilcox, Christian Glossin, Bailey Freeman, Juliette McCannon, and Valerie Coffey, and assistant coach Kat Tolbert with King Bunton. Courtesy photo
Days after the Faith Academy of Marble Falls girls’ basketball team’s 2019-20 season ended, head coach Larry Berkman smiled as he thought back on the year, his last as a high school basketball coach.
After 38 years, Berkman is hanging up his coach’s whistle.
But it was a great last year. The Lady Flames advanced to a Class 3A state semifinal game February 27, though they lost 42-19 to Midland Classical Academy. Along the way to the state tournament, they won District 3-3A, an area game, and a regional final in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools.
In his final season, Berkman’s family was there with him.
“Everyone was there, our whole family was there, and that was special,” he said. “I’m not making a big deal out of (leaving). This is the time.”
Berkman spent five years coaching the boys’ and girls’ teams at Faith Academy after more than 30 years as the Marble Falls High School boys’ basketball coach.
One personal highlight for him was coaching his granddaughter, Faith Academy senior point guard Bailey Freeman.
“I’m coaching Bailey, which I wouldn’t trade for anything,” he said.
In the semifinal game in Waco, Faith was only down 18-13 at the half, but the opening minutes of the third period set the tone for the outcome. The Lady Flames missed a shot that Classical rebounded and turned into a 3-pointer. The next Faith possession resulted in another missed shot and another 3-pointer by Classical.
“At the end, they pulled away,” Berkman said. “We fouled, and they made their free throws.”
Still, he said he felt nothing but positivity for his players.
“It was a good season,” the coach said. “I’m very proud of the girls. … They had nothing to be hanging their heads about.”
Berkman said now is the time to step away so he can watch his son, John Berkman coach the Marble Falls High School girls basketball squad. It also gives the elder Berkman time to watch another granddaughter, Alyssa Berkman, John’s daughter, play for the Lady Mustangs.
“I still want to support the Mustangs,” he said. “My focal point is John and watching him.”
He grinned as he recalled John saying to him how much he wanted tell him what adjustments to make during the state tournament game.
“I feel the same way,” Berkman said. “I’m sitting in the stands and watching John’s games. It’s a real family thing.”
In retirement, Berkman said he plans to be involved in youth basketball to help prepare players with the tools and fundamentals they need to succeed.
“Being around coaching is what the Lord has led me and wanted me to be there,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to be able to do what I do. I’m thankful that the Lord let me do it. He put me in this great place to do that.”