The Barrington football coaching community celebrated the Broncos’ Homecoming victory this weekend, but their hearts were heavier this year due to the recent passing of a beloved youth football coach. 48-year-old Karl Ambroz, a South Barrington father of three sons who spent many years coaching football and wrestling lost his life in August from complications related to a bone marrow transplant. Coach Karl made a lasting impression on so many who crossed his path, inspiring us to pause for a moment to honor his memory.
Well known as a great son-in-law, uncle, coach, mentor, friend, husband and dad, Karl was also an ER Doctor at Resurrection Hospital where he’s being remembered by fellow physicians as a gift to so many residents and patients.
Since Barrington football is the talk of the town this week, we thought we’d celebrate Coach Karl by sharing heartfelt reflections from some of the people who knew him best.
Over the past few days, Karl’s fellow coaches and a few young athletes weighed-in on the incredible gift he was to those he touched. Here’s what they shared…
“I had the fortunate opportunity to coach with Coach Karl for several years in Barrington Youth Football. He also coached and mentored my son George in football. He always provided positive instruction to the boys and was a class act on and off the field. As a professional, Karl imparted wisdom to our boys that went beyond the football field, with a sense that there was a bigger picture in life as these boys built on these experiences of youth football. Always respectful, encouraging and very passionate is how my son George and I will always remember Karl. We always knew what day it was when Karl was there. It was “Game Day”!
~ Joe and George Baldassano, Barrington
“I coached against Karl for many years and had the pleasure of coaching with him in tackle football in his last coaching season. Karl not only knew the game and pushed the kids to play their best, but he truly enjoyed coaching the boys and making every practice and game fun for the kids. He was a great father and that spirit rolled over into his coaching. He genuinely cared about the boys and also the coaches. It was a memorable season that he helped make about far more than just wins and losses. He will be dearly missed, not only by the people he has touched directly over the years, but also by those who will not get the privilege of meeting him and learning from him.”
~ Bob Beaubien, Barrington
“Karl and I coached wrestling and football together and he will be missed dearly. Aside from being a great coach, he was also one of the best men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am positive that anyone who knew him would agree with me. Karl made everyone’s world he touched that much brighter. Losing his attitude and outlook is absolutely devastating.”
~ Eric Hartman, Barrington
“Karl Ambroz was my friend and coach. I remember how Coach Karl always made practice so much fun and that he was always so happy. He was always there to help us and taught us to never give up.”
~ Bryce Cerkleski, South Barrington Resident & 8th grader at Prairie Middle School
“Karl had a strong sense of generosity and compassion, not only for his friends and family, but for those newly introduced to him in need of services that he could render without invitation or compensation. His medical background seemed to touch so many in his circle with acts of kindness and comfort when he could have easily declined based on his full schedule. Carving out time that was precious and short for those around him was standard operating procedure for Karl Ambroz, a man big of heart, strong in character and full of courage. His energy and enthusiasm were contagious at work, home and on the football field where Karl spent many dedicated hours of his life coaching our youngest athletes over the years. He had a passion for football and wrestling and understood how they provided a foundation for boys early on in life that could be built upon and used to get through life’s challenges. Karl was a true optimist and was always willing to “go for the long shot.” He left a strong impression on anyone who knew him and his memory will be forever treasured.”
~ Jeff Kapcheck, South Barrington resident & Karl’s friend, neighbor and coaching buddy
“With the players, Karl was always spot on with his demeanor. What was most important to him was making sure the kids were having a good time, learning the game, being respectful and he was great at teaching that to these kids. Karl knew what mattered the most and it wasn’t the wins and losses. For him, it was teaching life skills and values like sportsmanship, overcoming adversity and challenges and giving your best effort no matter what. He never lost sight of what he was doing out there as a coach and that was teaching our children invaluable life lessons.”
~ Tim O’Donnell, Vice President of Barrington Youth Football – Tackle & Flag
In tribute to Coach Ambroz, on Barrington Youth Football’s website you’ll find photos of him along with one of Karl’s favorite mantras, “Practice like you play, play like you are a champion.” The words will echo in the hearts of many for years to come and our thoughts and prayers remain with the Ambroz family during this difficult time.
By the way, a fund has been set up for Karl’s three sons. Contributions may be made at any time to the Ambroz Boys Education Fund and mailed to Barrington Bank and Trust Company, N.A., 201 S. Hough Street in Barrington, Illinois, 60010.