Karla Wolters coached collegiate athletics for 36 years, including 23 years at the helm of the Flying Dutch softball team. She retired at the end of the 2010 season.
During her career she coached 1,792 athletic contests. Her records by sport were: softball (684-398), volleyball (375-194), field hockey (40-26-7), basketball (24-21) and tennis (14-9). She coached teams with winning records in a season 46 times compared to nine losing campaigns and three .500 marks.
Wolters brought a new level of success to the Hope softball program. She 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 32 seasons was 684-398. Her 23-year softball record at Hope was 515-320. At the time of her retirement she was ranked the fifth winningest Division III coaches all-time.
A coaching milestone was reached when the Flying Dutch posted a pair of victories in the 2008 MIAA conference tournament. A 7-1 victory over Saint Mary's was the 1,100th collegiate coaching victory for Karla Wolters who over her career guided student-athletes in five different sports. A 4-0 win over Alma a day later put Wolters at an amazing 1,101-606 over 56 coaching seasons in softball, volleyball, basketball, field hockey and tennis.
The Flying Dutch posted their 500th victory under coach Wolters in dramatic and celebrative style on March 24, 2010. The milestone was achieved in a 5-4 victory over Grinnell, Iowa at the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Stephanie Faber hit a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice hit by Abby Phillips. Suzie Stevenson followed with a single and coach Wolters from her familiar third base coaching position waved the baserunner home where she was safe on a close play. The Flying Dutch gave Wolters her first-ever post-game Gatorade shower and the former softball Olympian Dot Richardson, who is director of the National Training Center where the game was played, presented her with the game ball.
Wolters taught and coached for 13 years at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 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 (1983-84-85-87).
Wolters is a 1973 Hope College graduate. She was a standout student-athlete during her undergraduate years. In her four years at Hope, she played 13 varsity sports seasons, lettering in tennis, field hockey, basketball and volleyball.
She received the Master of Arts degree from Michigan State University in 1978. She has the academic rank of associate professor of kinesiology at Hope.
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.
The Career of Coach Karla Wolters
Seasons: 32 (23 at Hope)