Former NFL QB, NCAA coach named to TKA job
For years The King's Academy's football claim to fame has not been its win/loss record, but its record for most languages spoken across its roster.
With a number of foreign exchange students dotting the team's small list of players, the variety of dialects bandied about the sideline was usually the most interesting thing about the Lions.
TKA headmaster Walter Grubb made a splash Tuesday, when he announced the hiring of former NCAA coach and NFL quarterback Ken Karcher as the team's next head coach.
“Ken Karcher understands the coaching profession as well as anyone I know," Grubb said in a release Tuesday. "And we are certainly grateful to announce him as our coach. But, beyond that, we are inviting him to develop a support ministry with us to serve coaches, and perhaps others in education, ministry and other professions.”
“I believe TKA’s administration has a passion for others to experience the life of Christ,” Karcher said. “Together we believe that athletics are tools in fulfilling the vision. I believe my background will allow me to help cast a vision for the football program and all whom it may influence.”
Karcher, 49, who played in four NFL games in the late 1980s and served as John Elway's backup during the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl push in 1988, comes to TKA after a stint as the offensive coordinator at Eastern Michigan University.
Prior to his work with EMU, Karcher held college coaching positions at Liberty (head coach), Pittsburg (offensive coordinator under Johnny Majors), Toledo (QBs) and North Texas (QBs and receivers). He's also coached on the professional level with the Rhein Fire of the World League (later NFL-Europe) and Orlando Thunder of the Arena Football League.
Karcher does have some high school coaching experience. Between his time at Liberty and Toledo, Karcher served as offensive coordinator at Fellowship Christian High School in Roswell, Ga. The Paladins improved in his time on staff, and reached the state quarterfinals.
"We're really excited," TKA Athletic Director Marc Weekly said. "Ken Karcher's a Godly man, but he's got a great football resume. I think in a lot of areas here at The King's Academy he's going to do some great things."
Weekly said that the process of finding a replacement for former coach Matt Evans, who resigned after last season, was an interesting challenge.
"I played for a lot of years and I was able to meet a lot of great coaches, and coaches that have great integrity," Weekly, who played collegiate football and in the Canadian Football league said. "When our position became vacant, we didn't post it. I just sent it out to a lot of these guys and said, 'Here's what I'm looking for.' Through the grapevine, Ken reached out to us."
It still took some work to get the coach to East Tennessee.
"We started talking, and it was a process," Weekly said. "It's a big change for him, and it's a big step for us.
"For us to be able to get him and his wife, Pauline, who has a lot of knowledge working with young women and has a passion for business, we feel so blessed to have this family,"
The Karchers are being asked to develop the academy's auxiliary camp programs to maximize use of the school’s facilities and 67-acre campus.
Ken Karcher will focus on sports camps while Pauline Karcher plans to develop a comprehensive summer day camp program for children and youth. According to Grubb, Pauline "also has a keen interest in working with international students, and will have a role in the school’s resident life program." She has a degree in management and economics from Tulane University and has served in a number of managerial and leadership roles.
According to Grubb, there is also a significant ministry component to the Karchers joining the TKA family, which may be the most important part of the new relationship.
“My two great passions are young people and education,” Pauline said. “I have worked in several schools in various roles. My favorite position was the education coordinator at the Liberty Godparent Home. It was there I was able to help inspire young women to continue their education. I believe young people are our greatest resource for the future.”
“Ken and Pauline’s desire to serve exceeds their coaching expertise and managerial skills,” Grubb said. “They have servant hearts and a passion for helping others.”
Karcher starts at TKA on Feb. 1. They are bringing with them their youngest child, Clay, who will be a senior receiver next season for the Lions.