By Greg Bates
For the last two decades, Rick Rosinski has changed the culture of the Green Bay East boys’ basketball program.
He’s also helped change the lives of countless high schoolers who have played under him.
In mid-June, Rosinski had to unfortunately submit his resignation.
“It was a difficult decision and like I told people before it had nothing to do with the parents, the players, the administration,” Rosinski said. “It had nothing to do with being burned out. It had to do with a 50/50 issue with my son that forced me to give up coaching, unfortunately. People were asking me, so I just told them the truth. I wasn’t going to beat around the bush. If I wouldn’t have agreed to it and I would have continued to coach, I would have basically lost 50/50 custody of my son. It’s an easy decision when you’re looking at it from the perspective of a 9-year-old. It’s a tough decision when you’re looking at it based on the lives that you can impact at East.”
“It hasn’t been an easy couple weeks, a lot of emotions. A lot of people reaching out, not only from the area, but from all over the state, which is impactful when you hear from people that aren’t even in the area.”
During his 20 years at the helm, Rosinski led the Red Devils to a record of 190-254. His best season was in 2003-04 when the team went 19-4.
This past season was one of his most successful during Rosinski’s tenure. Green Bay East started the season 10-0 en route to a 19-8 finish and a trip to sectionals.
It was the Red Devils’ first winning season since 2010-11.
Rosinski was happy he was able to see through last year’s seniors, which was an accomplished group.
“We had a good group last year, which was nice because those kids started out when they were younger and kind of went through it,” Rosinski said. “I think over the last eight, nine years we’ve really struggled with the feeder program. A lot of the issues we have is just getting kids there and parent involvement, it’s just a struggle. We had a group that started when they were in fifth grade and went all the way through and you can see that over the course of time you can see how they progressed to by the time they were seniors where they were, so that was nice.”
“The nice thing about that group was they were great kids, great students and you couldn’t ask for a better group of parents to even be around. So it was kind of a nice way to go out. I knew through the course of the season that eventually this day was going to come, but I didn’t tell anybody, outside of my assistant, Jim Hayes. When we beat King in the regional finals, it was pretty emotional.”
Rosinski also gets emotional when he talks about the lives he’s impacted during his tenure. It means a great deal to him that he’s still in touch with a lot of his former players.
Win or lose, Rosinski had tight relationships with his players.
“After my first couple years we had so much success and things started to turn a little and it wasn’t so much about winning anymore, it was what can you do to help a lot of these guys,” Rosinski said. “I think that’s kind of the philosophy that I took. When you see the amount of former players that show up to your games or the best example I could give anyone was this year when we played that regional game at home against Riverside, there were probably over 100 former players that were there. It was just incredible. Just to go through and say hi to everyone, they’re shaking your hand. I’m like, ‘Don’t shake my hand, give me a hug.’
“The things that were said, it’s kind of emotional because these guys are now young men, they’re men and to see how they are now in their lives and how they’ve become successful and become good fathers. That’s kind of the thing you really look at, how did you have an impact and hopefully somehow I
One of Rosinski’s former players, Cornelius Steele, sent a text about a year ago. It really hit home for Rosinski.
“He sent me a split screenshot between two pictures and the first picture on the left was a picture of John Thompson when he was a coach and Allen Iverson when he was a player and they were hugging,” Rosinski said. “On the right, there was a picture of John Thompson when he was retired and Allen
Iverson when he was retired hugging. Then on the bottom, the caption, ‘A coach is more than someone who loves you as a player, but loves you as a person.’ Corn is a great guy and a great kid and for someone like that to send it was kind of heartbreaking. I’ve still got it today. Those are the relationships that you built over the years. Those are irreplaceable. They were a former player, but now they’re a
Rosinski knows the Red Devils’ boys’ basketball varsity head coach job isn’t for everyone.
“There’s a lot that really need guidance and unless you have an open mind and understand that hey, these kids are going to make mistakes and they’re not always going to be the best student, they’re going to try, you really have to work with a lot of these kids,” Rosinski said. “What we’ve done is we’ve kind of used basketball as a tool to get a lot of kids to graduate. I know for a fact, if we didn’t have basketball there, there’s a lot of these kids that would have probably dropped out of school after sophomore, junior year. We got them to play, to stick it out and a lot of them will come back now and say that was the best time of their lives.”
New coach in mind
Rosinski is hoping his former player, J.D. DeVault, takes over as coach. A 2003 East graduate who teaches in the district, DeVault was Rosinski’s assistant for eight years.
““I’m hoping he gets it and if he does, of course, I’m going to do everything I can to help him out,” said Rosinski, who was told by East administrators that they’d like to have a new coach hired by the start of school. “The neat thing is there are so many people that are in his corner pulling for him.”
Rosinski has always had people pulling for him as well. If there’s another opportunity to coach at East in the future, Rosinski might come back to the sideline.
“I guess you never want to say no to anything,” Rosinski said.
By Greg Bates