In the aftermath of last Saturday's 1-0 victory over Archbishop Spalding for the 19th championship in his 31 seasons of coaching, Calvert Hall's Bill Karpovich stared across UMBC Stadium at the ocean of soccer fans.
He knew what others around him did not: He had coached his last game.
He was retiring from soccer, but not from his Calvert Hall classroom.
Although the tough soccer coach, disciplinarian and East Baltimore native turned away from a bystander, trying to hide the fact that he was fighting back tears, he could not.
So he wept, uncontrollably.
Reached by phone yesterday, his voice shook with emotion, and he had to stop now and then to collect his thoughts.
"I felt the same way then that I do right now -- I knew it was over. So I'm done now," he said. "Better to do it five years early than five minutes too late."
Karpovich, 58, said he waited until after the season to keep the pressure off his players and to allow Brother Kevin Stanton, Calvert Hall's principal, and athletic director Lou Eckerl to get a hiring process into place. Stanton said applications will be accepted immediately, with interviews to begin Dec. 5.
Karpovich's teams went 422-85-33 during his career -- a win total that ranked him third nationally among active coaches at the beginning of this season. He is proud that he never missed a day of school or of practice.
More than 40 of his players eventually got into professional soccer. Those former players include 1980 graduate Tim Wittman, a longtime Baltimore Blast and indoor soccer star who was one of his six Calvert Hall players to receive All-Metro Player of the Year honors from The Sun. UMBC coach Pete Caringi, 42, also played for Karpovich until 1972.
"He took a lot of pride in winning, but by mid-year, you could tell fTC this is the first year where he was ready to give it up," said Caringi. "It's great he's going out a winner, but it's the end of an era."
Senior striker Brett Wagner, told of Karpovich's decision yesterday, said he "heard rumors about it" but expressed disbelief.
"I thought about it before the championship game because during the pre-game prayer, he seemed kind of shaky," Wagner said. "I thought I heard him crying. We went out and won it for him, anyway."
This year's Cardinals, behind keeper Tom Paparounis and defenders Tim Gober, Steve Adams, Mike Duley and Jason Swem, had 14 shutouts -- one shy of the school record -- and allowed 11 goals in 22 games (eight in 16 league games).
Calvert Hall (19-3) dominated every opponent offensively this year behind top scorers Cam Letke, Wagner, Brian Powell, P.J. Wakefield and Matt Joseph. Even in their losses to Bullis (2-1), McDonogh (2-0) and Spalding (1-0), the Cardinals had a combined 88-18 shooting edge.
"He wanted to get the most out of us, every game, and I don't see how anyone can replace him," said Letke, an All-Metro striker. "He's going to get there, whether it's changing the entire lineup or benching his best player."
A math instructor, Karpovich said he is "definitely retired" from high school soccer but plans to remain a teacher Calvert Hall "for another four or five years."
Would he accept a college-coaching job offer?
"No way. I'm a teacher, and that's recruiting," Karpovich said. "Plus, there's a little white [golf] ball that I love to hit, a few books I haven't read, and a few places that mommy [wife Theo] and I haven't been to.
"I love all of the players who have played for me, and I respect them," Karpovich said. "I hope they feel the same about me."
Years coaching: 31
Career record: 422-85-33
Championships: 19 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association and Maryland Scholastic Association titles
Awards: National high school coach of the year (1991); inducted into Maryland State Soccer Hall of Fame (1997)
No. 1 local rankings: Eight
L National rankings: No. 3 (1996), No. 8 (1991), No. 16 (1997)
Milestones: First victory, 1-0 vs. Dundalk, Oct. 3, 1967; 100th 3-2 vs. Archbishop Curley, Oct. 5, 1976; 200th 2-1 vs. Curley, Sept. 20, 1984; 300th 2-1 vs. McDonogh, Nov. 9, 1990; 400th 6-1 vs. John Carroll, Oct. 24, 1996.
Pub Date: 11/13/97