Angie Karabaich knew that accepting the job as the Decatur Golden Gators varsity girls soccer coach would not be easy.
Despite the struggles on and off the pitch Decatur exhibited in 2016, Karabaich welcomed the opportunity when presented the offer at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
Since taking the job, she has jumped right in. Karabaich did not need reminding she is taking over a program that went 1-12-2 last season. On Aug. 21, the first day of training for the Gators, Karabaich kept the message and game plan for her new club simple. Her mission is to get Decatur back to the basics of soccer before the Gators can compete for a championship. They must learn to walk before they can run.
Karabaich is facing the same expectations. She hasn’t coach prep soccer since 2012 when she coached at Wilson High School in Tacoma. To an extent, she is on the same learning curve as her Decatur players.
“After just teaching in the Highline district for the last four years, I started feeling like I really wanted to get back into coaching,” Karabaich said. “This opportunity came up, I applied, and I’m so thankful that I got it.”
Karabaich brings plenty of experience to the Gators despite a long layoff. She led Tacoma Community College to a Final Four appearance in 2001 and played collegiate soccer for Pacific Lutheran University.
Then she went on to coach at Wilson, her alma mater. Karabaich was named the 3A Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2012. As a prep player for the Rams, she earned first team All Narrows League honors.
At Wilson, both coaching and playing, she became familiar with the quality soccer teams Federal Way schools were steadily producing.
“Even down at Wilson, we knew that Thomas Jefferson was building a major quality program, and the level of soccer in the area was on the rise,” Karabaich said.
The team’s focus this season is “family.”
To help make that culture a reality, Karabaich will have help from Gators boys coach Brad Plemons, who led Decatur to its first state tournament appearance since 2011. Terry Fentrop will also assist girls soccer this season.
Karabaich said she is well aware of the chemistry struggles that plagued the Gators a year ago.
She tackled that issue early, though. The team went on multiple bonding hikes this summer, and she has multiple team bonding exercises planned throughout fall camp.
While Karabaich was warned this job would not be easy, to her, coaching is not a job. It is much more than that.
“It’s about teaching commitment, accountability,” Karabaich said. “It’s about striving for these girls to become confident leaders. This year is about finding them a foundation of leaning on and growing with one another.”