In this three-part series, get to know Coach Mike Burgener, who runs the CrossFit Weightlifting Trainer Course and coached the American Women’s Junior National Team for about a decade beginning in the mid-’90s. He’s also the man behind Mike’s Gym, a two-car garage in Bonsall, California, that serves as a USA Weightlifting Regional Training Center.
In Episode 1, we sit down with Coach B. in his home garage as he reflects on his small-town high-school experience in Marion, Illinois.
“A friend of mine had a barbell set and liked weightlifting, and I wanted to get involved with lifting weights with him to become bigger and stronger,” Burgener says. “My dad, who was an All-American football player, thought weightlifting would make you muscle bound, so he forbid me to lift weights. But he did allow me to bale hay and, you know, shovel coal and do manual labor, and that was his way of making somebody strong—with very hard work.”
After high school, Burgener went on to play football at Notre Dame, where he found an opportunity to lift.
“(My football coach) told me he wanted me to get bigger, get stronger, and that there was a gym at Notre Dame called Father Lange’s, and that if I went down there and lifted weights and got my body weight up to 180 lb. that I’d have a better chance of playing,” Burgener says.
Father Lange taught Burgener the Olympic lifts and set the young athlete on the path to becoming “Coach B.”
Video by Jordan Gravatt.
Additional reading: A Day With Coach B. by Hilary Achauer, published Jan. 9, 2013.