This is one story I did not want to write anytime soon. Kal's daughter Erika let me know Coach was sick In late January. I got over to see him right away. The next 90 minutes spent at his home I don't think either of us thought about him being sick. That was the idea for him for sure...but I didn't think about it either for that small window of time. It was really nice. We just exchanged memories...some old and some new. I think he got a real kick hearing about my kids playing ball and that BSC was in good hands. I was real glad I could tell him first hand what a huge effect he had on my soccer career and as i got older my coaching career as a whole. I told him about a former player that was younger than me who wasn't a superstar by any means but apparently really absorbed a lot through his high school career. He had turned into a nice long time coach at one of the local clubs...i am sure he hadn't heard or thought of him in over 30 year because he was so under the radar...but i could see how happy and proud that made him. It was a neat unexpected moment during a special visit.
If you are a "Sarkozy Guy" this news really hits home. I played every sport under the sun throughout my youth and early adulthood and nobody got more out of me then Kal Sarkozy Sr. It's that simple. I had never seen someone who cared so much about a game in my life. When I saw that I was all-in. If you wanted your ego stroked...he may not have been the coach for you. But if you wanted to reach new personal levels that only he could see. You would run through a wall for him. I know I did and so many others did too. Bethlehem Soccer's success and power will forever be linked to Coach Kal Sarkozy's vision and passion.
Ironically enough, those of you who were lucky to know him off the field, realized as his very loving wife Harriet was quick to point out during my visit. Coach was actually a "big teddy bear" at heart. I am sure as players we all experienced a little teddy bear in there somewhere ... I think his greatest trick was doing it without us knowing.
My thoughts and prayers go out to the wonderful Sarkozy family...
I wrote the below letter for coach's retirement a few years back...I thought most of it was appropriate still and included it here:
My letter to Coach for his Retirement -------------
November 30, 2016
When I first met Coach Sarkozy I was petrified. He was bigger than life and commanded huge respect. I had never played goalie in organized soccer before. I remember as a junior in my first practice EVER seniors bending 20-25 yard shots around me and I heard coach laughing at me (understandably) as I must have looked like a fawn on ice in there. I told myself right then and there he wasn’t going to laugh at my play again.
Sometime between that day and us winning districts the following year, I stopped fearing the man and instead started fearing the idea of letting him down. That unique style of motivation is a powerful thing I found. It helped me to help create Liberty Soccer team memories of a lifetime in both 1989 and 1990. It also laid the groundwork for a nice 4 year college soccer career. Lastly, it created the original backdrop for some of my most treasured long-time friendships in life. For all this I am so very grateful.
Back in the day, I recall one of my favorite parts of practice would be trying to catch him in a good mood during water breaks. I’d give him a glance while standing in net and goad him into taking a couple shots on me. I would work harder on those shots than any others in practice…making sure he couldn’t laugh again I suppose. Bottomline though…it was fun and a neat little connection we had (whether he knew it or not).
In hindsight, I was so spoiled. As I kept playing soccer throughout college and a little bit beyond, I was naive to think each level I went “up” that the coaches would get better accordingly. A decade after I left Liberty I had proved that concept wrong about 6 times over…as each “next level” coach would let me down one way or another. Eventually, I stopped playing the game with a real bad taste in my mouth after my expectations for some of these later coaches were never met.
Fortunately, that bad taste went away when I started coaching my son in soccer recently. He loves the game and I do too again. I realize the foundation I have having just been exposed to Coach Sarkozy for only those 2 seasons on the field. It’s pure again…and that came from one person.
Huge thanks for all the knowledge, dedication, loyalty and passion you have gifted this community with. The level of play around here is a direct reflection of everything you have put into Liberty High School, the Lehigh Summer League and beyond. I am proud to have been a small part of that massive timeline. Enjoy your retirement and in the outside chance you get out to a local game or two down the road, kick back and know that your fingerprints are ALL over that action one way or another. THANKS COACH!
Derek Reusser, LHS ‘91
Coach Sarkozy's Bio Written by Tanya Thear Hood for his LHS HOF Induction -------------
Kal Sarkozy is to Lehigh Valley soccer what Michael Andretti is to auto racing. If you have grown up in the Lehigh Valley you know the name Sarkozy and the greatness that comes along with that in the soccer arena. Sarkozy’s life first focused around soccer as a standout playing for Liberty High School being awarded the Most Valuable Player, All-League and All-District in his sophomore, junior and senior years. In Sarkozy’s three playing seasons, his teams went 30-0 and allowed only five goals. In his senior year, he racked up 13 goals in 10 games after spending much of his time on defense the previous two seasons. Kal went right to playing professional soccer for the New York Sports Club after graduating. After three years, Sarkozy sustained a foot injury that sent him back to Bethlehem to recover. Kal has given his heart and soul to the sport of soccer for over 30 years, not only in the Lehigh Valley but in eastern Pennsylvania, as well. Sarkozy played for the Allentown Sports Amature Club Team up until 1981, when his stellar coaching career began. The Greater Bethlehem Soccer League was his first stop, coaching his six year old son. Over time, Kal Sarkozy Jr. began to flourish on the soccer scene. It was at that point, Kal was asked to coach the U14 Development Team of The Pennsylvania Stoners, a professional team from the area. Sarkozy coached this group of young athletes, including his son, until they were college bound, of which fourteen of the sixteen players went on to Division I schools. Through the PA Stoners, Sarkozy received his USSFA license, which allows him to coach at ANY level in any country in the world. 1981 was also the year that brought Kal back to his alma mater to coach the Boys Varsity Soccer Team for a span of 23 years. Along the way, he won two East Penn Titles in 1989 and 1997, three District Championships for the Hurricanes in 1989, 1992, and 1993, and reached the second round of state playoffs. He reached the 300 win club in his 19th season. To reach that point, Liberty teams had to average 15.7 wins for each of Sarkozy’s 19 seasons - quite the feat! Under his tutelage, Sarkozy developed numerous All-State/All-Regional players as well as two Parade All-Americans. Kal’s overall record for the Liberty Boys Soccer Team is 342-144-19. As if coaching boys wasn’t enough, Kal was asked to start an intramurals program for girls in the late 1980’s. Not surprisingly, the first year the program was an official PIAA high school sport, Sarkozy’s girls made the playoffs. Kal also was the Co-Director of the Lehigh Valley Summer Soccer League, Head Coach for the Keystone Games for juniors and adults, Head Coach for the Olympic Development Program for Eastern PA, Coach of the Semi-Pro Lusitano Portuguese Team, and ran the Sarkozy Soccer Camp for 12 years. Sarkozy is already a member of the Lehigh Valley Soccer Hall Of Fame and will be inducted to the Pennsylvania Soccer Hall Of Fame this January. Sarkozy’s most rewarding part of his coaching journey is the mentoring of young men and women. Nothing is more gratifying to a coach than to have his former players return and thank him for shaping their lives. Many of you may think soccer was Kal’s full time job, yet what you may not know is Kal was a welder for Mack Trucks since 1973.
Lastly a Nice Morning Call Story Here: