PORT ANGELES — For all the importance placed on athletics, sports must take a back seat when real life intervenes. That’s the reality for Port Angeles High School head baseball coach Karl Myers.
Myers, a physical education teacher who also serves as the Wilder Baseball Club AAA head coach, will depart the North Olympic Peninsula at the end of Wilder’s summer slate.
“For me, the decision was personal not professional,” Myers said. “PA has everything I’ve ever dreamed of in a place to live, in a career. I’ve always wanted to coach high school ball. Coaching college ball has never enticed me. A small town that’s as supportive as this one is all I’ve ever wanted to have as a coach.”
Myers said he has been in a long-distance relationship with a special education teacher battling a serious health ailment. The opportunity arose in recent weeks for the couple to live together and work in the Seattle area and for Myers to be there for her as she is treated at an area hospital.
“There’s only two hospitals in the state that can treat her,” Myers said. “We looked into options here, but the peninsula doesn’t have the medical facilities needed.”
Myers recently delivered the news to his players.
“I’m thankful that the support has been incredible,” Myers said. “It was tough talking to the boys, but they were all very supportive and handled it with grace and class. They’ve been mature about it and that means the world to me.”
Myers came to Port Angeles fresh off of graduating from Gonzaga University in 2014, having pitched for the Bulldogs baseball team.
An assistant for two seasons for the Roughrider baseball team, Myers took over as head coach in October of 2016 and led Port Angeles to a 52-18 overall record in three seasons, including three state tournament appearances, back-to-back Olympic League titles in 2018 and 2019 and a West Central District championship last month.
“Wins and losses are outcomes and they’ll lie to you to your whole life,” Myers said. “The past five years I’ve met some of the best people I’ve ever come across. More than anything its the relationships I’ve built and the people who have become like family to me. The kids, coaches and parents.”
Seven seniors on the 2019 squad have signed letters of intent to play college baseball.
Sending kids off to play college ball resonated with Myers.
“Helping kids see the opportunities that are available to them,” Myers said. “It seems far off and being out here [on the peninsula] it may seem like nobody ever notices you in recruiting. We wanted to open their eyes to the opportunity that’s there to further their education, play the game and see different parts of the state and country.”
Myers also served as a boys basketball assistant for Port Angeles under Kasey Ulin for five seasons, and as boys tennis assistant for the Riders for four years.
“He provided a superior level of coaching,” Port Angeles Athletic Director Dwayne Johnson said. “He’s a multi-faceted coach that was good for the community of kids.”
Popular and respected amongst his players, Johnson enjoyed watching Myers flourish as a coach.
“I will say it was a great project in watching him grow with the three sports he was coaching,” Johnson. “And the community involvement he was also invested in.
“The advantage that he has that he was coaching multiple sports in the fall, winter and spring, and that connection piece will be what is difficult for the families and the kids.”
Myers offered some insight into his approach as coach.
“Earn the trust of your kids,” Myers said. “Show them and treat them with respect, show them you are willing to do whatever it takes to help them succeed.
“We ask so much of them, we can stand by the fact that we care about them.”
Myers said this spring’s baseball team, which repeated as Olympic League champs and made it back to state, was the “most selfless team I’ve ever coached.”
“They believed in each other, sacrificed for each other. They cared for each other. They were a family and it was really, really cool to see.”
Myers will be working as a physical education teacher in the Issaquah School District next fall. Coaching isn’t in the cards in the near term, but Myers said a return to the diamond is likely at some point.
“It’s really not my focus right now,” Myers said. “The focus will be on beginning a life over there and making sure we are both taken care of and that I can be there for her. The next two or three years are going to be tough. But come spring if there’s an opportunity to help and we are all good…”
Myers looked back on his initial goals as head coach of the baseball team.
“At the beginning of the whole process three years ago, the goal was for as long as we are going to be here to be revelant in the community and leave the program better than we found it.”
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]