Important people for my athletic development

Albert Šoba

Albert Šoba, universally known as Berč, was my first coach.

At twelve, I was lucky to get him as my mentor.  Bypassing junior coaches, I went straight to the man responsible for the successes of Matic Osovnikar, the 100 m and 200 m national record holder.

Berč may not be the right coach for every athlete but we always had a good relationship.  I learned a great deal from him.

First of all, the love for athletics.  Few people are so passionately devoted to the sport as he is.  Athletics is his life and it’s positively contagious.

He is very fit and still competes at the highest levels in master athletics. (He was the 2019 European Champion in the M60 300 m hurdles with 45.46!)  A great example to young, aspiring athletes in this respect.

Unlike some other coaches, Berč can demonstrate a proper sprinting and hurdling technique right there at the training.  I think running technique is one of my strong points and he helped shape it during the years.

He taught me that athletics is about competing, not practicing.  He always says that competitions are the best training and should not be skipped or avoided.  He advised me to race often, and I believe this is one of the reasons for my progress.

I also learned about loyalty in sports.  Your club takes care of you and, in return, you must give it back by being your best and competing whenever the club needs you.

Last but not least, at Mass, you’re encouraged to be ambitious.  You’re challenged to look beyond the national level, aim at the best international competitions, and fight to get there.

As Berč got busier (now also the President of the Athletic Expert Council at AZS) and as I was going to study abroad, our relationship would become less intensive for the foreseeable future.

I’m grateful for all his support during the years and for the chance to always ask for his advice whenever I need it. 

Boštjan Eržen

My Dad.

Not officially an athletic coach, but someone who knows a thing or two about peak performance.  In sport and business.

With Berč having less time and with all the uncertainties of 2020, my Dad stepped in as an assistant coach.  That worked for me fine.

An athlete himself way back when—a long jumper and sprinter—his favorite hobby is keeping in shape and competing in master athletics.  Or in any sport for that matter.

Ideal for doubling as my training partner, right?

He swears by intensive weight training, special plyometrics, various resistance runs, and short, explosive sprints, gradually extended.

Add to this lots of injury prevention exercises and you’ve roughly got my off-season training plan.

What else…

Oh yes, he’s big on setting goals.  The bigger the goal, the more fired-up he gets.

And I shouldn’t forget about “progression,” probably his favorite sport-related word.

You see, for my Dad, it’s all about gradually increasing weight loads, speed, distances, etc., allowing the body to adapt before increasing intensity another bit.

He would use every possible app, gadget, or device to film, analyze, and measure progress.  And then update the program accordingly.

It’s hard work to do his training plan.  But it’s also lots of fun.

I know some family teams sometimes have challenges.  Raised voices, tension, tears, silent days…

Not us.  None of that.  Not sure why, but that’s the way it is.  🙂


P.s. Special thanks to the Head Coach Rok Kocjančič, AD Piran, for his training and competition tips and positive encouragement.

“You can do amazing things.  What you need is a big idea and a perfect plan. And the drive to do it.”

—Bostjan Erzen

Marjan Olyslager & Brendan Troost