Sadly, Baltimore soccer lost another legend this week, with former Calvert Hall Soccer Coach Bill Karpovich’s passing.
Most people know “Coach Karp” from his time at the Hall. He also coached (as an assistant) professionally with the Baltimore Bays. The pic/profile above is from a program from a match in 1973 (Baltimore Bays vs Arminia Bielefeld of Germany, at Memorial Stadium). He may have coached elsewhere too, not sure.
A lot of people have some funny stories about Coach Karp. We’re posting this here cause we’d like to hear some of them below in the comments section. Anything from his time at the Hall, or from the Bays, etc.
One story that’s not necessarily soccer-related but says a bit about him…
I went to play golf at Clifton Park one summer, and I noticed Mr. Karp was playing ahead of us. When you’re an aspiring player, Coach Karp was the kind of guy whose presence drew out the nerves. He was the legend at the helm of the storied Calvert Hall Soccer program, with a famously strong personality, and I was just a young bucket of nervousness, getting ready to try to play soccer at Calvert Hall
I wasn’t sure he saw me and I didn’t go out of my way to say hey just yet – I’d probably just say something dumb or simply alert him to the fact I wasn’t out running hills or sprints in preparation for training camp. Better I just lay low and out of sight.
At some point, I hit a comically large snap-hook that headed straight for a cart on another hole. And of course…“Oh S**T….that’s Mr. Karp’s cart!?“. The ball missed, but me yelling “fore” drew a duck and cover drill, which always frustrates golfers. Great.
My group all finished their tee-shots while I tried to get smaller than the small I already was, and hoped he didn’t realize who hit that shot and would just move on. Even if he saw which golfer hit it, surely he didn’t know it was a potential player of his, right? One that would really rather not pi$$ him off.
He casually, ominously, steered his cart across his fairway toward my group until he was close enough for us to hear his typically prodigious yell…
“Hope you’re better at soccer than you are at golf, Woodward!”
I don’t recall for sure, but I’d wager I made myself run a lot of hills and juggled the ball a helluva lot after that.
This is the sort of fear he could put into you though. We came into camp in tip-top shape every year, so as to not face his wrath. Yes, we were well-coached, well-organized, and could play good soccer, etc…but one thing for certain is that we would very rarely be out-worked by an opponent. He made sure of that. His results speak for themselves, and his personality and way of instilling respect – and fear (and at the right times, confidence) – played a big part.
Maybe stretching it a bit, but to me t’s not all that hard to look at the Manchester United situation and see parallels in terms of the impact the right amount of fear/respect for your coach/manager can have on certain players. Players didn’t seem to have that same ‘fear’ with Moyes.
Not everyone agreed with Coach Karp of course, and he, like anyone that successful, had some enemies (as did the great purple-nosed Alex Ferguson). But as a player of his you couldn’t argue his methods, or he’d happily show you the door marked Exit, and show off his collection of trophies on your way out.
Coach Karpovich clearly had a huge and positive impact on soccer in this town. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family.
As a postscript…many of course know that our dad Otis – the Poppa Woodnose himself – passed away last year, and quite honestly we’ve been unable to write much on here since then. We gave up on the site a bit. Otis was the biggest follower/commenter/fan/nose of the WoodNose crew. But, in a World Cup year, he’d want it back in action, so…we’re trying to do that, and get the soccer talk goin again on here.
So help us out – start by letting us know your Coach Karp stories.
More to come, including a World Cup pool, and some special Otis-related stuff. You can subscribe by entering your email in the box in the upper right.