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Federal Way man with lifelong passion for soccer named Citizen of the Month

Karl Grosch and his wife Helga during a dedication ceremony at Steel Lake Park in 2003, when the city named the park’s soccer field after Grosch.  - Contributed
Karl Grosch and his wife Helga during a dedication ceremony at Steel Lake Park in 2003, when the city named the park’s soccer field after Grosch.
— image credit: Contributed

Some coins have great presidents’ faces imprinted on one side: Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Then there’s the coin for Washington Youth Soccer with the face of a man who made local soccer history Karl Grosch.

The Washington Youth Soccer organization recently created the coin to honor Grosch, who co-founded the Washington State Youth Soccer Referees Association. Referees will now use the commemorative coin for the coin toss before soccer games.

While Grosch’s coin doesn’t have any monetary value, the work he’s done bringing youth soccer to the area, and his contributions to Federal Way, are priceless.

This is why Federal Way resident Charlotte Larson nominated Grosch for the Mirror’s Citizen of the Month for March.

“It came as a surprise to me,” said Grosch, in a strong German accent. The 89-year-old immigrated from Darmstadt, Germany to the U.S. in 1952. A retired Boeing engineer, he has lived in the Twin Lakes area for 47 years with his wife, Helga.

“Credit must be given to an ordinary citizen doing extraordinary achievements,” said Larson, who first met Grosch while playing bridge at the Federal Way Community Center years ago. “He has given unselfishly and modestly to his adopted country and community of Federal Way.”

On a recent morning at the community center, Grosch pulls out a planner stuffed with paperwork and lays it out on a table in the activity room he plays bridge in twice a week.

“You don’t need to write anything down,” said Grosch, pointing to his credentials, including his resume, nine awards from the city of Federal Way, press releases and numerous newspaper clippings illustrating his volunteerism with the city.

Grosch served as a Parks and Recreation commissioner from 1993-2002 and a Civil Service commissioner for 11 years.

He helped plan for the city to become Federal Way before incorporation, and it was even his vision to have the various pools for different types of swimmers at the community center.

But of all of his accomplishments, it was his volunteerism for the local soccer community that he is most passionate about.

The city recognized his long-time youth soccer advocacy by naming the soccer field at Steel Lake Park after Grosch in 2003.

When he first came to the U.S., he couldn’t believe the lack of opportunities for American youth to get involved in soccer. Soccer was a big deal in Darmstadt.

This prompted him to get involved in the local soccer scene, eventually bringing youth soccer to the forefront of Washington and the United States.

He coached his sons’ soccer teams, was a member of the Federal Way Soccer Association board and served as the president of the Washington State Youth Soccer Association from 1971-77. During that time, he moved the association from a volunteer-run organization to a professional agency. He is also a member of the association’s Hall of Fame.

He also co-authored the first United States Youth Soccer Association’s constitution, by-laws, rules and regulations. He recalled how he and two others spent three days at a hotel, crafting the first handwritten draft of the bylaws. They wanted to provide a democratic structure to create uniform rules and guidelines to facilitate intrastate, interstate and international play.

He said he also helped bring girls soccer to the area, after some outraged parents threatened a lawsuit against him for disallowing girls to play on the boys team.

At age 89, Grosch is still active and says he can’t seem to sit still for too long.

“If you were retired, would you want to sit 24 hours at home?” He said. “You’ve got to do something — be active.”

To nominate a resident for the Mirror’s Citizen of the Month, email editor@fedwaymirror.com with the person’s name, contact information and explain why you are nominating that person. The contest is sponsored by Jimmy Mac’s and winners receive a certificate to the restaurant.

 

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