Person of Interest: Volleyball Coach Karl is Nationals Bound for the 6th Time

After a full weekend of grueling one-and-done volleyball play, the ball will eventually drop to decide a victor. The referee will blow final whistle. One team will dogpile on the court, crying and celebrating, free to release the weekend’s emotional toll. Ninety teams came, 89 went home. But not yours – a satisfaction too perfect for words. This is what qualifying for nationals feels like.

“Those are the moments during the season that make it worth it,” Condo Agent Karl said.

This is familiar territory to Karl. His club volleyball team recently qualified for the girls 2017 USAV Junior Nationals, winning their last-chance tournament qualifier in Minneapolis, Minn., out of 90 teams. It’s the sixth time in his career, the second time with this same 15-and-Under team.

That’s a mark of consistency most coaches envy. But having coached for around 15 years, Karl has plenty of experience from which to draw.

Karl started playing volleyball when he was 18 years old, at Oceans of Fun of all places. There, he met some fellow players who introduced him to grass, sand and indoor volleyball around the city.

“Even though there are no opportunities for boys to play volleyball in Kansas City, there are tons for men at all levels,” he said. “It’s such a great city to live in because there is volleyball everywhere.”

While teaching Visual Arts in a private school that no longer exists, the school called upon Karl to teach PE after the class’s teacher quit mid-year. Karl felt ill equipped for the role until he came across volleyball in the curriculum. Since he played, he thought it would be a breeze to teach teens the sport. Karl soon learned that playing and coaching were two different things. But he did his best and finished out the year as interim gym teacher.

“I liked teaching volleyball,” Karl said. “I mentioned it to a friend of mine and was not aware that she was a varsity coach at Center High School (Kansas City) at the time. So she offered me the position to coach JV. That’s how I got into coaching.”

Karl spent a few years as the JV coach and assistant varsity coach at both Central High School and St. Pius, both in Kansas City. After he helped St. Pius win a state championship in 2006, the head coach offered Karl a club team. He’s been coaching club volleyball to this day.

Despite all his coaching success, Karl wasn’t a pro on day one.

“It took persistence, because I was terrible the first few seasons,” he said. “I had no clue. With sports, it’s a lot more than just showing them. That never works. You have to give them keywords to make them know what needs to change. Every year, we make 100 changes. The team that comes out in the end is not anywhere near the team at the beginning of the season.”

Karl also strives for positivity, saying that encouragement goes much further than negativity and pushing too hard. The results speak for themselves.

We wish Karl and his team luck in nationals later this month when they travel to Minneapolis to take on the best of the best!