West Hills College Falcons hire former player to take over football program

From West Hills College
Justin Berna
Justin Berna

West Hills College Coalinga has found its new head football coach: former West Hills College Coalinga Falcons football standout player and WHCC alumnus Justin Berna.

Berna—currently the head football coach at Avila University in Kansas City, Missouri—will begin his new position as the Falcons’ Director of Sports Operations/Head Football Coach on May 1.

“We are excited to welcome Justin back to West Hills College Coalinga, as the new leader of the Falcon football program,” said Eric Mendoza, Associate Dean of Athletics at WHCC. “Justin brings college head coaching experience and a passion for helping student-athletes succeed in academics, athletics, and citizenship. His teaching and leadership philosophies align with the mission and core values of West Hills College Coalinga – a place he is very familiar with. We believe Justin’s roots in the Central Valley will help grow our football program to new heights in recruiting and developing community partnerships.”

Berna has a long history with football both as a player and as a coach. He played at West Hills College Coalinga from 2002-2003, a product of Yosemite High School in Oakhurst.

As a Falcons starting tight end and H-back, Berna earned Academic All-Northern California Football Conference honors and played in two bowl games – the 2002 Silicon Valley Bowl (runners-up) and the 2003 Pacific Graffiti Bowl (champions).  The Falcons were runners-up at the Silicon Valley Bowl and the champions at the Pacific Graffiti Bowl and the 2003 team finished the season ranked No. 9 in the final California Community College Football Coaches Association poll for the north.

Berna earned his associate of arts degree in Liberal Arts from WHCC in 2004, then transferred to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri – where he played two years and earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a master’s degree in Education. 

"My family and I are extremely excited to return to the Central Valley and West Hills College Coalinga,” Berna said. “I loved my time as a Falcon student-athlete and want our current and future student-athletes to have the same experience and feel the same pride in being a Falcon as I did.”

Berna has extensive coaching experience. At Lindenwood University, he served as the Running Backs-Tight Ends Coach and Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach from 2006 to 2008 and as Wide Receiver Coach, Strength and Conditioning Coach and Fitness Center Director from 2008 to 2009.

He served as Assistant Head Football Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Strength and Conditioning Coach at MacMurray College from 2009 to 2011 and has served since Jan. 2011 as the Head Football Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Strength and Conditioning Coach at Avila University.

Berna hopes to continue the WHCC football program’s success over the past few years.

The WHCC football program has captured three consecutive Golden Coast League titles. The 2016 Falcons won the NCFC American Division Bowl Championship Game as well. The top-ranked program is 27-6 since 2014 – including a conference best 16-2 in the GCL.

Berna said his first duties will include recruiting a current team roster, helping qualified players transfer to the four-year level, and building his coaching staff.

“I look forward to meeting with our students-athletes and getting reacquainted with the campus community,” he said. “We have a lot to do in a short amount of time, but it’s an exciting challenge that we will face together with a blue-collar mentality.” 


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