On the soccer field, Karl Rumph has made a name for himself as a talented player with a bright future, but his success has as much to do with his skills as it does with his maturity, dedication and focus.
Rumph, a Southampton resident and high school senior, was a key member of the St. Anthony’s High School boys soccer team, which won the state championship in the Catholic League this fall after an undefeated season. After graduating in May, he’ll be headed to the University of Connecticut to join the powerhouse Division I men’s soccer team. His dedication to playing on various club and travel teams throughout his high school years led to his most recent and certainly most impressive accomplishment to date, an invitation to the Under-18 Men’s National Team Mega-Camp. Rumph was one of 72 players chosen to attend the camp, which took place in Carson, California, from December 28 through January 4. The players were evaluated during the course of their stay and are all eligible to join the men’s under-18 team as well as the 2009 and 2010 under-20 FIFA World Cup teams.
Rumph began getting noticed and rising to the highest ranks of the country’s under-18 soccer players after joining the Met-Oval team, an elite squad based in Brooklyn that serves as an official developmental academy for U.S. soccer. Rumph was named a captain on the Met-Oval team and played the defensive center midfield position for the squad. He earned high praise from his Met-Oval coach, Giovanni Savarese, who says that Rumph is a special player.
“The first thing I noticed as soon as he came to the academy was his maturity,” Savarese said in a telephone interview. “For his age, he’s a very mature person. He’s intelligent and he’s definitely somebody who is able to be a leader on the field. I have seen him develop very quickly and to train with the U18 team in California is a reward for hown he has been providing for our team and how quickly he has been developing.”
As far as his skills on the field, Savarese said Rumph brings a lot to the table, in terms of both talent and leadership.
“He plays a key position as a defensive midfielder and he’s able to be a leader,” Savarese said. “He knows exactly where to be and he can move well with both feet. He has a great shot and he protects the ball, so he brings a lot to that position. He sees things quickly and doesn’t lose too many balls.”
Rumph’s road to soccer stardom required more than the average amount of dedication, particularly when he made the decision to attend St. Anthony’s in Huntington. Getting to school each morning involved a 5:30 a.m. wake-up, and Rumph then was driven to the Macy’s parking lot in Hampton Bays to catch a bus to school that departed at 6:20 a.m. Combined with soccer practices, Rumph got home late and got up early on a regular basis, but he says the effort was well worth the sacrifice.
“It wasn’t too bad,” he said during an interview at his Southampton home in December. “Besides the fact that the soccer is good, the school is great, too.”
Even while he was a student at Southampton Intermediate School, Rumph started getting used to the long drives required to pursue his passion for soccer. He played on travel teams in Lake Grove, Huntington and later Brooklyn when he joined the Met-Oval team, making the long treks because the competition on the East End at that time was lacking.
When asked if he ever grew weary of the
long drives and long hours, Rumph said that his single-minded approach toward his ultimate goal of becoming a better soccer player kept him focused.
“It’s all worth it because everything I do is to get to the next level,” he said. “All the work I put in paid off. It feels good to get to the next level.”
Whenever complacency or frustration started to creep in, Rumph says he had one train of thought that kept him dedicated.
“I always think that there is someone else working harder than me,” he said. “That’s what motivates me when I’m not motivated. I just think of all the players who are working while I’m doing nothing.”
Rumph said that during his college search, he wasn’t drawn to any particular region of the country, but simply wanted to pick the school with the most prestigious soccer program. After a visit to UConn in April of 2008, Rumph was sold and says he’s excited about moving on to the collegiate level in the fall.
“I just wanted to go where there was good soccer,” he said. “They were very professional and very up to date on all the equipment they have. I like how the players carry themselves and how they play and prepare.”
Rumph is guardedly optimistic about his chances to continue his career after his time at UConn, acknowledging that focusing on establishing himself in the collegiate ranks will be his primary goal for now. But after attending some of the most elite camps and showcases throughout the country due to his association with the Met-Oval team, it’s clear that Rumph has a soccer bug that won’t be satisfied any time soon.
He spoke of one showcase in particular that he attended in California, where he and other players got to meet and speak with several members of the U.S. Men’s World Cup team.
“It was cool,” he said. “We got to talk to them and it was really motivating for me to look at what they’re trying to do.
“I’d like to someday play professionally,” Rumph continued. “I want to play as long as I can and go as far as I can, whether it ends in college or playing professionally.”
According to Savarese, Rumph possesses the potential to continue his career, but he’ll have to keep up the work ethic that has taken him this far.
“I think he’s getting closer and closer to being a player that can do well in college,” he said. “He’s developing very quickly and being in the academy has helped him get ready for what’s to come at the college level. His years at college will be key to see if he can make it at the professional level.”
While his own personal dedication to soccer and his love for the sport are the key factors in Rumph’s success, he was also quick to point out that without the help of his coaches, he would not be where he is today. Savarese, Met-Oval assistant coach and former Southampton College men’s head coach Andreas Lindberg and St. Anthony’s assistant coach Don Correo were all crucial in his development as a player and he gave credit in particular to Savarese, a former player on the Venezuelan national team.
“Since he was such a good player, he realizes all the things players go through,” he said. “And Andreas is right up there with him. Individually, he helped me a lot and since I was 9 years old, he taught me a lot about the game that no one else has.”
Rumph also credited Correo with keeping him focused. He didn’t forget to thank two of his biggest supports, parents Tim and Susan Rumph.
“My mom was always saying that I was never home, but they realized how much it means to me and how much I’ve had to give up.”