Nearing 50 years as a teacher and coach, Bill Korrow prepares for Sunday’s 24th annual Billy Korrow Memorial 5K, in honor of his late son
Long pants and Bill Korrow go together about as well as oil and water.
Even in the coldest temperatures of any given season, including the Turkey Bowl every Thanksgiving, the longtime Loyola Blakefield assistant football coach patrols the sideline in his trademark khaki shorts while barking encouragement to Dons on the field and patting helmets of those coming off the gridiron.
There has been, however, at least one exception to the Korrow short-pants principle, and that came on a bitterly cold and windy night in late April at historic Homewood Field while fulfilling his other coaching duties with the Dulaney girls lacrosse team — his daughter, Kristi, is the head coach of the Lions — in a losing effort against now-No. 19 Fallston.
For that game, Korrow was dressed more appropriately for a trip to Kodiak Island, Alaska, where another daughter is a soccer coach, than for a game played in north Baltimore on the campus of Johns Hopkins University.
Yet he will most assuredly return to wearing shorts on Sunday morning (8:30 to 10:30 a.m.) to run in the 24th annual Billy Korrow Memorial 5K Run and 1-mile Fun Walk on Loyola Blakefield’s campus in Towson.
The event, which honors the memory of Bill and Jane Korrow’s only son who died in 1993 at age 12 from a blood clot, has raised $350,000 throughout the years for the Billy Korrow Scholarship Fund at the school and typically attracts about 300 entrants.
The fund is used to give financial aid to prospective Loyola students who will be actively involved in school clubs or athletics.
“The scholarship is modeled on Billy,” said his father. “He was as proud of his academics here at Loyola as he was his athletics. We want the money to go to someone who is going to be involved in school life. It’s not for someone who just arrives at 8:30 and leaves at 4.”
Now in his 47th year teaching and coaching at the school, Bill Korrow has become a Loyola institution — and the only one who wears short pants practically year-round to teach in the physical education department.
“If we have a Mass or any kind of formal event, he’ll wear long pants,” said Mike Keeney, a 1965 Loyola alumnus and the school’s athletic director. “Other than that, he wears shorts.”
According to Keeney, Korrow’s students know better than to believe that his casual choice of clothing makes him a pushover.
“He’s tough but fair with the kids,” Keeney said. “He holds their feet to the fire as far as what he does to make them into men. And the kids love him. It’s a testament to the man he is that after losing his only son, Billy, he has continued to teach at Loyola and treat thousands of other young men like sons.”
As a football coach, Korrow has worn many different hats for the Dons. He has coached at the freshman, JV and varsity levels, everything from special teams and running backs to wide receivers and the line under head coaches Joe Brune, Brian Abbott and Brant Hall.
The jack-of-all-trades said that “I kind of do what they want me to do,” and he intends to fit in with new coach Anthony Zeyhoue’s staff in a similar manner.
According to Abbott, now the upper school head at Gerstell Academy in Finksburg, Korrow’s versatility was a key to the Dons winning four Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference titles in their 10 years together.
“Bill would work with the kickers, take care of the JV, be an equipment manager, make sure the uniforms were clean — he’d do all the dirty work to make sure that everyone else’s life was easier,” Abbott said. “And that typifies all what Bill is about. He tries to make life easier for the other people in his life.”
While at Dulaney for the last decade, Korrow said that he’s happy to defer to his daughter’s style of coaching, which was good enough to lead the Lions to the Class 4A/3A state championship last spring.
Kristi Korrow was a standout lacrosse player at Mercy and Loyola University for the late Diane Geppi-Aikens.
“Coaching girls is different,” Bill Korrow said. “But I have three daughters (Kate and Julie are the others). I enjoy spending time with Kristi, and I don’t mind when she tells me I’m doing something wrong because she has such a deep knowledge of the game. I think the Dulaney girls think it’s neat that I’m out there with my daughter, so they see me as a father figure for the team.”
Two years ago while his daughter Kate was having a baby, Bill Korrow and his wife Jane traveled to her home on Kodiak Island to help out with their new grandchild.
While Kate was recuperating from the delivery, Bill Korrow coached her soccer team in two games.
The team, he said, took a ferry from Kodiak Island to Anchorage to play one game, slept in the opposing team’s gym and played a second game the next day.
“I went 0-2, but it was fun,” he said.