BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — A team doesn’t always have to be a part of a sport. Sometimes, it can just be a group of people who work together, play together or support each other.
At the April 11 Maumee Chamber of Commerce luncheon, that was part of the message speaker Tim Berta wanted to get across when he spoke of an accident that changed the trajectory of his life more than 16 years ago.
“March 2, 2007 is a day I remember nothing about, but it’s a day I will never forget,” Berta told the crowd.
Berta was a member of the Bluffton University baseball team in 2007 and was riding with the team when their bus crashed in the early morning hours of March 2, 2007, in Atlanta, Ga.
Five teammates died as a result of the crash, as well as the bus driver and the driver’s wife.
Berta doesn’t remember the accident itself or several weeks following while his body recovered from catastrophic injuries, but he does know just how much dedication it has taken to make it to this point.
It’s because of a team of first responders, several teams of doctors, his family, friends, his baseball teammates and more, that Berta learned how to walk and how to drive again.
They are all a part of his team, striving to make a positive difference in his life, Berta told the chamber members.
“Those years of struggle, desperation and hopelessness are not something I really want to remember. Instead, I like to remember the teamwork and the triumphs,” Berta added.
When Berta was in Atlanta, his mother was introduced to a doctor who was working to save her son’s life. She knew this was a person she would have to remember for the importance he held for her family. The doctor then introduced his team. After they left the room, another team of doctors came in.
Berta’s mother quickly realized just how many people were a part of her son’s team, including all the doctors, specialists and nurses, like Charles, a nurse who would come in on his days off to clean the room and check in on Berta.
“That’s not his job, but he did it for my success and to give me the best chance at survival. He wasn’t doing it for extra pay or extra recognition. He was a member of my team, doing his best to make a positive difference,” Berta said.
When Berta left Atlanta for The University of Toledo Medical Center after approximately six weeks, most of which he spent in a coma and doesn’t remember, he spent time in the hospital working to regain skills with his inpatient therapists.
When Berta struggled with some of his therapists’ requests, he pushed himself harder, convinced the therapists wanted him to fail.
It was only after gaining some perspective when neurologists told him he would never walk, drive or learn anything new again, that Berta realized he had several people on his team, fighting for him and pushing him to do his best, despite the odds.
“I did not take this news too well. After that awful experience, in my outpatient workouts I continued doing extra reps, but not from misunderstanding. This time, it was from taking ownership of my recovery,” Berta explained. “I had been a member of a team. Some of those teammates no longer had the chance, and it was my job to improve as much as I could, regardless of what the experts say.”
It was the one thing he could do: Fight for a better quality of life and continue to do the best he could, so he did.
In the 16 years since the accident, Berta finished his undergraduate degree through Bluffton University before receiving his master’s degree from Lourdes University.
He’s also expanded his team. From his family and friends to the first responders and medical staff he met after the accident to the universities that embraced him, Berta has added hundreds more people to his team.
The local businesses he frequents, which provide him with support and make him feel welcome, along with anyone he speaks to, Berta considers a part of his team.
“On my team, there are only two positions: to have courage if you need to – and believe me, I know that’s not always easy – or to be encouraging,” Berta told the chamber members after inviting them to be a part of his team.
On any team, Berta explained, every role is important. No matter how small or undesirable it may seem, it is important to the function of a team.
“The important part to remember is everyone on a team has a role, and everyone has a gift. Not everybody may like their role, like me being forced to basically start life all over again … but what each of us adds is incredible,” Berta added.
For Berta, he has now spent nearly half of his life honoring his teammates who lost their lives too soon, and he has continued to chase an improved quality of life in their honor. That’s what his team is about.
Not all teams are the same, though. Some can be focused on athletics. Some can be focused on business. Each team is different, but regardless of what someone is doing in life, they’re probably part of a team. Berta quoted the late Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs to the members: “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
Also during the chamber luncheon:
• Chamber executive director Kristin Meyer introduced several new members, including Sally Perz of Maumee River Yacht Club, Chad Buck of Buck Brothers Asphalt Paving & Concrete, David Anders of Karate Works, Ronald Rothenbuhler of School of Rock Perrysburg, Valerie Lambert of Optical Arts and Jordan Tobias of Superior Credit Union.
• Meyer reminded chamber members of the upcoming 2023 Maumee Chamber Golf Outing on Monday, June 26.
“We have morning and afternoon shotguns, beverages on the course are included. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, goodie bags, games, prizes and lots of networking. It’s one of the area’s largest golf outings and it will sell out. In fact, we’re halfway there, so register early,” Meyer urged the group.
For more information on the Maumee Chamber of Commerce, including upcoming events, visit maumeechamber.com.