HOLLAND - Longtime Hope College softball coach Karla Wolters has announced her plans to retire from the faculty and from coaching at the conclusion of the current school year.
"It is with bittersweet feelings that I announce my retirement at the end of the 2009-10 school year," Wolters said. "I have truly enjoyed living my dream of working for my alma mater. The students, staff, colleagues and administration have blessed my life with wonderful memories and I will treasure their friendship forever. I look forward
with great anticipation to this school year and to what the Lord has in store for me after my career in education is over."
Wolters has coached collegiate athletics for 36 years, the past 22 years at the helm of the Flying Dutch softball team. She holds the academic rank of professor of kinesiology.
"Karla's service to Hope College as an outstanding teacher, coach,
scholar and mentor will long be remembered," said Dr. Mark Northuis,
chair of the department of kinesiology. "She has supported the mission
of the college by investing in the lives of young people on a daily
basis as they seek to become effective and caring physical educators.
Her versatility as a coach is reflected not only in her numerous wins
in several sports, but also in the affectionate praise of her
Wolters has coached an amazing 1,754 athletic contests over 57 seasons
in softball, volleyball, basketball, field hockey and tennis. Her
records by sport thru the 2008-09 school year are: softball (664-380),
volleyball (375-194), field hockey (40-26-7), basketball (24-21) and
tennis (14-9). She has coached teams with winning records in a season
45 times compared to nine losing campaigns and three .500 marks.
Wolters has brought a new level of success to the Hope softball
program. She has led the Flying Dutch to five NCAA Division III
tournament appearances (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996 and 2006). The 1991
Flying Dutch finished third in the nation and the 1995 team tied for
fifth. Wolters was named the Region softball coach of the year in
1991, 1992 and 1995. The Hope staff was honored by the MIAA in 2006.
Her career collegiate coaching record over 31 seasons is 664-380. Her
22-year softball record at Hope is 495-302. She is ranked the fifth
winningest NCAA Division III coach all-time.
Wolters introduced the sport of korfball to Hope and western Michigan
through a class she taught. In the fall of 2005 Hope entertained a
Korfball team from Europe and the next summer a team comprised of Hope
students and recent alumni traveled to Europe for a series of games.
Wolters served on the governing board of USA Korfball and in 2007 was
an assistant coach on the USA team that competed in the World
Championships in The Czech Republic.
She has a passion for the history of sports and a special interest in
the history of the Olympics and women in sports. She enjoys sharing
this historical information and her collection of antique sports
equipment with her students and community members.
Wolters taught and coached for 13 years at Calvin. She led the Calvin
softball team to seven conference championships from 1979-87 and took
Calvin to the NCAA Division III playoffs on four occasions
Wolters is a 1973 Hope College graduate. She was a standout
student-athlete during her undergraduate years playing in 13 varsity
sports seasons and lettering in tennis, field hockey, basketball and
volleyball. She received the Master of Arts degree from Michigan State
University in 1978.
In 1986 she was voted the NCAA Division III coach-of-the-year by the
Intercollegiate Volleyball Coaches Association. She is among the most
successful coaches in the history of the Michigan Intercollegiate
Athletic Association with 20 conference championships in softball,
volleyball and women's basketball.
Wolters and her husband Tom, also a Hope College graduate, reside in
Zeeland, Mich. Hope College in 2008 honored the Wolters by naming
the college's new softball stadium in their honor.