Technology paramount for former Badger Berggren in maintaining family ties

Family time for former Wisconsin forward Jared Berggren is only possible through the power of modern technology.   

Image By: Graphic by Jade Sheng

LONDON — On a typical night, Jared Berggren will come home from practice to be greeted by his wife, Cass, and their baby daughter, a welcome sight at the end of a long day.

There’s nothing particularly novel about Berggren spending time with his daughter, just eight months old, and his wife of over three years.

But these days, Berggren’s family time happens in a unique fashion, that cuts across transatlantic lines and couldn’t have been replicated even a decade ago.

“I’m pretty much FaceTiming with my wife and daughter every morning and every night, so it gives you a little taste of home,” he said.

Berggren, a Wisconsin basketball alumnus, currently plays for the Shinshu Brave Warriors of Japan, and technology has been paramount in connecting him to his family back in the United States.

Berggren’s stint in Japan is not his first overseas, as he’s played in Belgium and Italy as well. However, this is the first time his wife hasn’t made the trip with him.

Technology has made that transition a bit easier.

“I can’t imagine guys that did this 20 years ago without this kind of technology,””Berggren said. “You’re on an island, you’re just isolated.”

Berggren’s use of technology goes beyond simply talking to his family, as he’s often been forced to use Google Translate to cope with the language barrier in Japan. That wasn’t always the case in Belgium or Italy, where he could find English-speakers or signs bearing words like “ristorante” that were fairly obvious to decode.

Now, he can barely navigate a grocery store without an app to scan the barcodes of products.

That type of technology has proven to be immense for Berggren, in the midst of a winding international career.

Sure, he’s is a professional athlete, but the life of a basketball nomad isn’t always glamorous.

The former Badger is currently playing for his sixth team, with none of his stints lasting longer than the two years he spent at B.C. Oostende in Belgium.

That type of uncertainty over one’s next move — Berggren was unemployed as recently as January — can be grating and exhausting. The big man has lacked much stability since leaving Wisconsin, and now the pressure of providing for his small family is mounting.

“It’s not just me… There’s ramifications that affect more than myself,” he said.

But with those added stakes comes the saving grave of technology. If Berggren can’t be sure of where he’ll playing in the future, at least he can be sure of what he’s buying for dinner.

And if FaceTiming his family gives Berggren a sense of home, the same can be said of his television viewing overseas.

He indulged in March Madness action last month during some down time, and has gone to “less than legal” measures in the past to watch movies.

He even used a fake IP address in Belgium to use Netflix.

“Now they have it there,” he said.

Technology won’t put Berggren’s baby back into his hands, or fix him a home cooked meal. But it can make his time overseas more comfortable, more homey.

He surely won’t call Japan home for too much longer, but for now it’s where he resides.

And in an unconventional fashion, his family is right there with him.

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