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Rozanski retires as Serra Catholic basketball coach

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bob Rozanski first gave retirement some serious thought three years ago.

On the bus ride home from North Hills High School after Serra Catholic's basketball team was eliminated from the state playoffs by Kennedy Catholic, Rozanski looked at longtime and trusty assistant coach Mickey Kotun and told him: "I don't know if I could do it anymore."

Eventually, Rozanski decided he couldn't end his storied career on such a down note and returned for another year ... and another ... and another.

For Bob Rozanski, there is no another year.

Rozanski handed in his resignation to the Serra administration this morning, ending a career that started when he was 25 years old and has spanned 32 years and close to 800 games.

"I put a lot of consideration into it," Rozanski said. "I just think the time is right. The timing is perfect. It is a combination of many, many things. I have been thinking about it the past two or three years."

Rozanski was just the seventh head coach in Serra history. No other coach stayed for more than four seasons and he and Jim Monroe are the only coaches who have an all-time winning record at the school.

"Most schools can't wait to get rid of the coach," Rozanski said. "It is easy to stay at Serra with the players and the cooperation I get. It was a tough decision I had to make. I really don't know if I am going to miss it or not. I probably will, but I won't know that until I see."

The 58-year-old Rozanski said he is simply worn down by the long regular seasons and the even longer offseasons.

"I am tired," Rozanski said. "It is a lot of work. It is just not three or four months of the season. It is around the clock and it takes a lot of energy. I need a break from it right now."

Rozanski said he started to think about hanging it up as the season started to wind down this year, even though his team was once again one of the best in Class A heading into the postseason.

"I started to think to myself if I really wanted to do this," Rozanski said. "It is a grind, especially in the playoffs. I will miss the playoffs and the atmosphere and the anticipation but it takes a toll on you emotionally."

Rozanski reached the 500-win plateau this season and leaves Serra with a 519-243 overall record. He led Serra to 11 section titles including six consecutive, 22 WPIAL playoff appearances, 16 state playoff appearances, a WPIAL Class A title and a PIAA Class A championship. He had only four losing seasons in 32 years.

Rozanski said he is grateful he was able to work with some quality people at Serra, from athletic director Bill Cleary to the headmaster who hired him back in 1978 in Father Kieran Monahan.

"I probably would've been fired a couple of times along the way if I was somewhere else," Rozanski said. "It is very easy to coach at Serra. The administration has been very supportive of me. If I had a problem, it was usually taken care of."

Rozanski is especially grateful of Father Monahan, who took a chance on a 25-year-old with no head coaching experience.

"He knew about me and knew what I could do," said Rozanski, who coached three years as an assistant at Penn State McKeesport before getting the Serra job. "There was some criticism but he took a chance and I made the best of the opportunity. I would really like to thank him for that opportunity."

It wasn't all great times for Rozanski at Serra.

His teams won just five section titles in his first 26 years, but things changed in recent seasons. He guided the Eagles to six straight section championships and 136 wins since the start of the 2004-05 campaign.

"The last six years have been terrific," Rozanski said. "I am very proud of that."

Rozanski's fondest memory was the state championship team of 2007-08. Serra went 30-2 that year and stunned supremely talented Freire Charter in the state title game at the Bryce Jordan Center.

"It is hard to top that," Rozanski said. "Nothing is comparable to the state championship. When I watch the gold medal ceremonies of the state tournament and it is something you can't fully appreciate until you go through it. That is the highlights. That and having my sons play for me."

Rozanski had both sons, Mike and Marc, play for him. Mike Rozanski played from 2000-04 and Marc, the all-time leading scorer at Serra, from 2003-07.

While it was a joy to coach his kids, it also resulted in one of Bob Rozanski's toughest decisions as a coach.

"My oldest son was a senior and Marc was a freshman and we had to get more offense into the lineup so I had to sit Mike down and put in Marc," Rozanski said. "It was a coaching move I had to make and never really thought what it was going to do to Mike. But he handled it very well."

For now, Rozanski, who still teaches English at Serra, is going to enjoy his retirement from basketball, but won't totally keep the game out of his life.

"I will be a fan," Rozanski said. "(Norwin coach) Lynn Washowich is my neighbor and I would like to go see his team play. It would be nice to stop everything and go watch McKeesport. I am sure I am going to miss it. I thought this through. I never will say never. If I find I miss it too much then I may get back into it right now. But I have to try this first."

Rozanski doesn't plan to be around the program after he says his good-byes and that's by his choice.

"I will make a clean break," Rozanski said. "That is the way I want to do it. I don't want to put pressure on anybody so I would like to keep my distance."

Kotun will more than likely follow Rozanski into retirement, leaving the job wide open.

"Actually, I would love to see one of my assistants stay in there," Rozanski said. "That's not my call though. I will make my recommendation to them. If he would want my input I would be happy to do that. I am a fair guy and always will be but I think Bill has enough experience as an AD to know what kind of fit he needs at that school."

Something says there aren't going to be too many Bob Rozanskis out there for the picking.




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