GALKA CALLS IT A CAREER — longtime Kearny boys soccer coach retires after 18 years, 2 state titles

Kearny soccer has been a part of Bill Galka, whether it be as a player, assistant coach or head coach for most of his life. Now, Galka is ready to take on a new role when it comes to the legendary program – fan.

Galka recently announced the decision to retire as the Kardinals head coach, ending an 18-season run. Galka first revealed his decision at the team’s annual end of season awards dinner in late May.

Overall, Galka, a 1984 graduate, has spent 25 years on Kearny’s coaching staff, first serving as an assistant under John Millar.

Galka hands over the reins to Scott Millar, a fellow Kearny great as a player and, for the last four years, one of Galka’s assistant coaches.

“I never put an amount of years on it of how long I was going to coach,” Galka said. “I’ve had thoughts about (retiring) a couple of years ago, started to think about it and basically coming down to when I thought it’s the right time.

“When you start to feel you’re doing the same thing over and over and your energy and passion is not the same as it was a few years ago, it is time to step down and let somebody younger get in there that’s going to do all those things that you need to do to keep the program moving in the right direction.”

Under Galka, the Kardinals remained one of the state’s premier programs, going 308-59-21 during his tenure as head coach. In that time, Kearny won seven Hudson County championships, five North 1, Group 4 sectional titles, two state championships (2017, 2021) and several division titles.

Galka departs after one of the most dramatic state tournament runs in program history, winning consecutive overtime games over Livingston, Clifton and Westfield before falling in a late-minute heartbreaker to Princeton in the Group 4 final. They finished 17-5-1 and ranked No. 8 in the state by

Galka was also on staff under John Millar for two Kearny state titles (2002 and 2004). As a player, Galka was a key contributor on the Kardinals’ 1982 state championship team.

The fond memories Galka retires with as head coach go far beyond the championships his teams won.

“Those were certainly great years, great moments, but it’s not limited to that. We had great moments playing at Red Bull Arena, winning those games and the league and having some great games in our league and outside of it where we played tough competition all the time.

“You always remember those games where a lot of people came out to see the team play in the state championship where so many players and so many people from the town that were connected to Kearny Soccer came out to support. Those are really memorable, especially coming back to town, getting a police escort into town after those two state championships and heading right down to the Scot’s Club. Those are some moments that I’ll always remember.”

Galka’s connection with Kearny soccer began when he started playing as a youngster. As a senior, Galka had 14 goals and 13 assists to earn All-State honors and lead a Kardinals team which included future olympians John Harkes and Tony Meola to a North 1, Group 4 title.

After graduating from Kearny, Galka went on to play at Mercer County College and Southern Connecticut State before playing professional indoor soccer with the Daytona Dynamo of the National Soccer League.

Eventually Galka returned to his home town where he became a physical education teacher and junior varsity coach. Galka will remain as a Phys. Ed. teacher in the district.

While Galka didn’t completely rule out the possibility of helping out the program as an assistant in the future, he’s content with stepping away after an unforgettable run.

“I got to say, it’s been an honor and a privilege to coach here with this team at the high school I went to and played for under John Millar. It was a thrill to be able to coach with him and I certainly thank him for all he’s done for me as a teacher and a coach here.

“(Being the head coach) was always a great thrill for me. The support we get from the town, the people of the town, it was just tremendous.”

Learn more about the writer ...

Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)