Coach Rotsky is an asset, not just a football coach

Cleveland Heights High School recently lost an amazing asset and mentor to its football program, Coach Jeff Rotsky.  Some people in the community believe that football is a pastime, a mere choreographed battle of athletes with no vision past 100 yards, but I beg to differ. I would like to share why I think the antiquated stereotype is wrong and how Coach Rotsky's departure will deeply affect our community. I petition you to listen.

I met Jeff Rotsky eight years ago when my oldest son began to participate in Cleveland Heights’s youth football program. I heard the rumors about Rotsky’s intensity and commitment but I had not heard about the strides he took to help boys become men. After eight years of unparalleled devotion, college camps and visits, countless scholarship recipients and a handful of NFL players, he is asked to resign. He is asked to leave, despite [his believing that he had] verbal agreement from two years prior about allowing him to watch his son play while remaining head coach; instead he was met with a brick wall.

We are a football family, watching our boys play, grow and mature. We cheer their wins and mourn their hardships, and by our sides each step of the way is Jeff Rotsky. I see a coach, a man, who shares a passion and a commitment to our children and community like none other; he teaches them to lead by example. He impresses upon them the value of an education—to study hard, work hard and appreciate life. He reminds them to be considerate to those that do not have their advantages and to volunteer their time to help others. He demands excellence, on and off the field.

After all the years of football, the cold afternoons, the innumerable hours of practice and games, and the countless lives that he affects, I cannot help but focus on one memory: a hug. A seemingly simply gesture that carried with it promises and gratitude. He saw my child and thanked him. As we walked across Heights football field with my oldest son [at the end of] his high school career, he was approached and embraced by Coach Rotsky. He was told how much he was loved. Every moment up to that day dissolved into one precious gift: to see in the eyes of others what I see everyday. This amazing man gave my son and so many other young men true compassion and guidance. It reduced me to a blubbering pile of goo.

He loves our boys as his own. He provides a safe haven and true academic experience for boys to become better men, successful students, and hopefully future community leaders. For this memory and so many others I would like to say thank you and give praise to an individual who rarely takes a moment’s praise for himself.

So, I ask, is he not important? I know football players and families are only a small part of our district but we have a voice, don't we count? What happens to the kids that do not have someone to stand up for them or keep them actively involved in school in a positive way? Is it really a good idea to refuse to listen and compromise when it is for betterment of the school community? Newsflash: it is not just football, it is their futures.

Annie Brust

Annie Brust is a Cleveland Heights resident who has lived here with her family for more than 10 year. She has been a public high school teacher for 17 years. 

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Volume 8, Issue 2, Posted 3:30 PM, 01.29.2015