Billings West’s Riley Bergeson has made his choice.
The Golden Bears' senior-to-be will be joining the United States Naval Academy and Navy football team following his high school graduation next May.
Bergeson visited the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, recently and fell in love with the campus. He will arrive there early in June of 2022 for basic training before putting on the pads for practices in the fall.
“I remember watching the Army-Navy game two years ago and thinking that’s one of the places I want to go. It was really cool when they offered me. I’m really thankful and lucky to be offered, honestly. Since it’s always been a dream of mine it was kind of a no-brainer, honestly. ... It's such an amazing game. It's the only game played that day. Everyone stops for it. There's so much tradition mixed in with it. Not only that, but also these guys are playing against each other but they're both willing to die for each other. There's never going to be a game like that other than Army-Navy. Even Air Force-Navy. That's playing for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. I'm really excited for that," Bergeson said. "When I went out to campus, I went out two weeks ago, and it was just stunning. So much more amazing than I ever knew. I couldn’t explain it to you, you just have to experience it. It’s just a sacred, sacred place. A lot of tradition, which was really cool."
Bergeson is an elite defensive player for West and said he’ll play the role of Striker at Navy, which will utilize his versatile skill set in the best way possible.
“Since Navy football is a little unorthodox from most college football we see, they run a triple-option on offense, their defense is a little different, too. It’s a great, great defense. It’s kind of like I would play D-end, outside linebacker, inside linebacker, strong safety and free safety," said Bergeson.
Bergeson plans on studying aerospace engineering at Navy, but for now he remains a Golden Bear. And while he’s still here in Billings he’s giving back to the community.
Bergeson hosted the first annual Pat Dolan Memorial Football Camp on Wednesday in memory of his late grandfather, with all proceeds going to a good cause.
“I could run this camp in honor of my grandpa, who has given so much to this sport and me, so I could run this camp and everything I make in sponsorships and donations and camp fees I will donate back to Yellowstone Youth Football to their scholarship fund in order to help underprivileged kids pay the cost to play football," Bergeson said.
Bergeson didn’t limit the camp coaches to just his teammates at West. Football players from both Skyview and Senior joined Bergeson to help coach up the next generation of Billings football stars.
“I didn’t want this thing to be a West High thing. I kind of wanted to bring everyone together as a community thing. As you see, everyone has got on the same white shirts, because I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, these are the West High coaches, these are the Senior, these are the Skyview coaches.' I want it to be, ‘Oh, these are the Pat Dolan Memorial Football Camp coaches,'" said Bergeson. "We’re a community. We’re all in Billings, we all live in Billings. Yeah, sure, we have our battles on the field and whatnot, but at the end we’re all Billings.”
Bergeson had a great turnout for two sessions of the Pat Dolan Memorial Football Camp for elementary and junior high kids. He’ll be one of the leaders for West as they chase a State AA title in the fall.