For more than five decades, Rob Rose ‘69 has not only served as a coach to his student-athletes, he has been a mentor, advisor, and teacher as well. Along the way, Rose has won more than 70 percent of his games while racking up a phenomenal 868 total victories as a head coach in baseball and an assistant coach in football at five different Ohio high schools.
Most recently, Rose served as the defensive line coach for Toledo Central Catholic in 2022. The Irish defeated Akron Hoban 28-21 in the Division II state championship game, securing the program’s third state title since Rose joined the staff in 2009.
Coaches don’t have that kind of success over that many years without making a significant impact on their students. That impact starts with lessons learned on the playing field, but Rose cherishes the personal connections he has made with his players just as much.
“I have enjoyed the kids at every stop,” Rose said. “Watching them develop and seeing their joy in the team accomplishments has to be near the top of the list. Having them come back after graduation, being successful in school or jobs or as family men is even more satisfying.
“I have coached sons of former players, as well as coaching with some of my players. I wouldn’t still be doing this if I didn’t enjoy the kids, and they try to keep me young as well.”
While Rose has won 408 games and multiple state championships in football, he is best known for his work on the baseball diamond. He served as the head coach at Whitmer High School in Toledo for 20 years, in addition to one year at Springfield High School in Akron. He compiled a record of 460-144 and guided Whitmer to nine league championships, five district titles, and a pair of state semifinal appearances.
A native of Wooster, Ohio, Rose was selected Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association (OHSBCA) Division I Coach of the Year in 1997, in addition to three district coach of the year awards during his career. Fifty of his former players went on to play college baseball, including one player who made it to the Major Leagues, and Rose coached 12 players who earned All-Ohio honors.
Rose’s baseball coaching career culminated with induction into the OHSBCA Hall of Fame in 1999.
In reflecting on his career, Rose credits his alma mater for shaping his perspectives. A history major, Rose says that going to college during the tumultuous 1960s “made me much more aware in choosing subjects to pursue as a teacher.”
“The History Department worked hard to teach all of our history,” Rose said. “That and we were fortunate to have an ‘exchange’ professor from Wilberforce come to Witt and teach American history from his experiences. Those things shaped my approach to being a classroom teacher for 30 years, dealing with instruction in different eras of our history to a variety of ability groups.”
For Rose, what he gained in the classroom at Wittenberg was matched by the preparation he received from National College Football Hall of Fame coaches Bill Edwards and Dave Maurer. He only played football at Wittenberg for less than two seasons due to a knee injury, but Edwards and Maurer gave him an opportunity to stay involved with the program, and Rose says, “I learned what went into creating a winner’s culture.”
Working with Edwards and Maurer wasn’t Rose’s first coaching opportunity, however. That came several years earlier while he was still in high school in his hometown of Wooster, Ohio, as he coached his younger brother’s summer baseball team. His brother, Jon Rose ’73, also graduated from Wittenberg, as did Jon’s wife, Pam (Cheney) Rose ’73.
“I was exposed to great coaches, and to my benefit they allowed me to be a student assistant my senior year,” said Rose, who has two children with his wife, Pat (Bronson) Rose ’70. “That experience and a nice letter of recommendation helped get me a varsity assistant football job in my first year of teaching after graduation.”
Fast forward an amazing 54 years and Rose is still putting the lessons he learned studying history and coaching football at Wittenberg into practice. And he’s not done yet. He’s already hard at work preparing for another season on the sidelines at Toledo Central Catholic.