The Harford County Public School system and the athletics department were saddened again this week with the passing of Paul Perkovich, a teacher, coach and Athletic Director at C. Milton Wright High School. ‘Perk’, who died Sunday, was 53.
Perkovich was the AD at CMW from 2006 to 2017, having stepped down following this past Spring season. Under his watch, Mustangs teams and individuals won numerous state titles in boys soccer, cross country, field hockey, swimming, boys basketball, wrestling, softball and track and field.
Perkovich’s teaching and coaching career in Harford County, though, started in the early 1990’s at Edgewood Middle and High Schools.
“The first thing that comes to my mind, I’ve been thinking about this since Sunday, I was very fortunate that the two principals at the middle school and high school, when they were hiring teachers, were hiring really good ones at that point. There were a bunch of very good coaches,” former Edgewood coach and AD Bob Slagle said. “When I interviewed Paul and I said what sports, he said basketball and football. I said, I don’t have anything in that but I’d like to get you involved. I gave him, as I remember, JV soccer and JV softball.”
The Perkovich coaching era began.
“So, he did and he took programs that weren’t very good, but as you watched them practice and watched the kids, you could see that this was a person that knew exactly how to coach. He knew how to communicate and he was responsible” Slagle said. “The next year I got him into football and basketball and he became a very valuable addition to my staff and became my number one assistant.”
Slagle was the head boys basketball coach and Perkovich was on his staff for the Rams’ 1997 Class 1A state championship.
“He had the ability to communicate, he had the ability to deal with kids, but at the same time, get the most out of them. He was intense, but the kids loved him. He was what you looked for in someone that was dealing with young people,” Slagle said.
Fellow and former Edgewood coach Debbie Basler was a co-worker and friend of Perkovich. In more recent years the two worked together as AD’s; Basler at Edgewood and Perkovich at CMW and most recently, Basler as the Supervisor of Athletics for Harford County.
“I’ll tell you one of the best memories I have is watching him on the sideline of the basketball court when he was coaching,” Basler said with a chuckle. “He would pace and probably work out more than those kids did on the floor. Sometimes he was the entertainment versus the game and depending on what was happening. He would joke about it afterwards, once he settled down from whatever happened on the court, he would joke about it.”
Perkovich moved his job to CMW in 2000, where he did take over the boys basketball program.
“I think my best memory of Paul is just he’s, he was just a genuine person, like there was no agenda. It was what you saw. Just a hard worker, cared about the kids and just wanted them to reach their potential,” Basler said. “I think if you talked to any of his players, probably one of the biggest things that they’ll say about him is that he pushed them or had confidence in them when they didn’t.”
For the past four years that Perkovich was the AD at CMW, Mike Thatcher has served as Principal.
“The only solace for me, well there’s many, we were able to stand up and clap for him at the beginning of this school year for all that he had done as an Athletic Director. The sad thing is he stepped down to spend more time with his own children, which is just very unfortunate,” Thatcher said. “So glad to be able to stand up and clap for him and honor him. You put 28 years into education and then it’s easy to criticize from the outside, but that guy is something else.”
Perkovich is survived by his wife Jennifer, daughter Paulina and son Jensen.
Perkovich, a physical education teacher with bachelor and master’s degrees earned from the West Virginia University, taught it all at both Edgewood schools and CMW. Weight training, middle school phys ed, ninth grade phys ed, wellness walking, etc.
“Everybody know’s him as Loud. He was loud, but he was loving. You think being loud, he would be drawing attention to himself, but totally the opposite. He was very unassuming; let the coaches and the kids get all the glory. For as loud as he was, he was at the background,” Thatcher said. “I took his file out just looking at things and all the supervisors and principals and athletic directors he’s worked with, I counted up how many times they said enthusiastic, how many times they said energy, how many times they said passion, how many times they said encouraging. Just, it was all true.”
Thatcher, too, became a co-worker and friend to Perkovich those early days in Edgewood. “I was lucky enough to know when he got married to Jennifer, it was early in our careers together. Our careers sort of started together and unfortunately they’re ending together here,” Thatcher said. “Loved working with him, he saw me every day as an AD. His world is his family. He was here for the right reasons. Put the kids first, put his family first, whether it was the C. Milton Wright family or his own. Just going to be missed.”
Tim Lindecamp is the AD at Aberdeen and it was Perkovich he looked to when taking over the job. “Perk was instrumental in helping me when I became the Athletic Director at Aberdeen. I was constantly bouncing questions of him. He never complained, was always there for help,” Lindecamp said. “I also did this when I took over the weight training program at Aberdeen, again great help from Perk. Perk wasn't just someone I called for help, he became a good friend. I can't express not only the loss I feel, but the loss to the C. Milton Wright community. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. Perk will be terribly missed, but never forgotten.”
Viewings will be held at E.F. Lassahn Funeral Home, P.A., 11750 Belair Road in Kingsville on Friday 3-5 and 7-9 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Stephen’s Church on Saturday at 10 a.m. Interment is private.
There is a gofundme account set up by CMW Boosters. The link is https://www.gofundme.com/the-perk-fund