By TOM WILLIAMS
The 1960s and early 1970s were interesting times in the Ocean City High School sports community.
Hall of Famer Dixie Howell was coaching baseball and boys basketball and later became athletics director. Fred Haack took over in baseball followed by Roland Watson, who would later make a big name for himself coaching softball. Hall of Famer Jack Boyd replaced Dixie in boys basketball; Hall of Famer Phil Birnbaum was establishing a boys tennis program; Andy Prohaska had just left the head football job, moving across the bay to coach Mainland – John Cervino and Mike Slaveski would follow him; and Hall of Famer Pat Dougherty was getting girls basketball started.
Hall of Famer Fenton Carey was still coaching swimming but he gave up the track team in 1963 after 12 seasons. He was succeeded by Ted Klepac.
Klepac, who died yesterday, promptly rolled off 10 straight winning seasons, the only OCHS boys track coach to ever do that.
His teams won three Cape-Atlantic League championships and finished second three other times. When they started the Cape May County Meet in 1972, his Raiders finished first the first two years. In fact, Klepac’s Raiders won the county meet, CAL Meet, CAL Relays and Bridgeton Relays in 1973 during a 9-2 dual meet season before he stepped down as coach.
Klepac was an athlete at Woodbury High School and Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) before coming to Ocean City. His father, Ted, was a successful track coach at Woodbury. In fact, the winner of the 3200 meter relay race at the Woodbury Relays wins the Ted Klepac Memorial Award in recognition of his father.
In fact, during his senior year at Glassboro, Klepac and Birnbaum, a freshman, played together on a doubles team that went undefeated.
Klepac was also an assistant football coach, coached the boys cross country team for a year during its formative years, was gym announcer at home basketball games and was largely responsible for the establishment of the Key Club at OCHS. He also became a track official and was a certified tennis teaching professional.
Klepac taught history at OCHS for nearly four decades. He had a quick wit and an unique sense of humor that made his classes entertaining. In fact, being around him just about anywhere was usually entertaining. He was outgoing and he seemed to know just about everybody.
Recently, after moving to Seaville, he spent a great deal of time at Dino’s Diner – so much that he sometimes seemed like a host.
Klepac, who is survived by a son, a daughter and a sister, finished his track coaching career with a 71-29 record, second only to Carey in won-lost percentage among boys track coaches at the school.
He was part of a great era in Ocean City High School sports and his personality and success as a coach added to the illustrious history of the Raiders.
Ted Klepac was 85.