Rossi wants to keep children moving
Pat Rossi inside the field house Monday, June 11, 2012 at Ridgewood High School in Norridge. Rossi is a graduate of the school and has been working there for 17 years. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
NAME: Pat Rossi
KNOWN AS: Youth sports coach
Updated: July 15, 2012 2:24PM
Pat Rossi beams as he speaks about coaching youth sports.
“I can see the development,” said Rossi, is a 17-year employee of Ridgewood High School and an alumnus now serving as superintendent of buildings and grounds. “You can see the kids who are gifted athletically and academically.”
His job as a coach for football, basketball and baseball is to try to provide a positive role model, Rossi explained.
“So many times, kids know only what they see on TV or YouTube,” he said. “That’s not reality.”
What is reality is children are getting less exercise these days.
“Unless it’s organized sports, it’s very hard to get kids out,” Rossi said. “They’re missing out on developing basic motor skills.
“Like monkey bars. We used to do flips off those things.
“A lot of kids no have muscular ability,” he continued. “They can’t do push-ups or sit-ups. They don’t even have any idea what monkey bars are.”
In addition to coaching at the high school level, Rossi has been coaching his son John’s teams.
One of the benefits of coaching younger kids is that Rossi runs into those same athletes once they start attending Ridgewood.
“It’s great watching them develop,” Rossi said. “You teach them something, and then you see them go out and put that something into action, whether it’s sports- or character-related.
“There are kids I’ve know since they were in fourth-grade,” he noted.
One in particular is at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wis., where he ranked third in the hammer throw.
“It’s nice when they come back and say hello, keep in touch,” Rossi said. “They still remember the good times they had.”
And the younger kids benefit from Rossi’s high school coaching experience.
“I have a good view of how things work at the high school level,” Rossi explained. “I can tell the little kids what I see, and I try to head off those issues.
“If you get them when they’re young, you have a better chance at making an impression on them.”
Rossi expressed his gratitude to district residents for the school’s ability to provide not only a sports program but also an environment conducive to learning.
“The (2006) referendum enable Ridgewood to do a lot of things, both academically and athletically,” he said. “Why should our kids have less than any other kids?”
Rossi also praised the change in attitude that once held that because Norridge and Harwood Heights, may be considered a blue-collar area, it cannot compete with other, more influential areas.
“We have kids going to Harvard, Yale,” he said of the Ivy League universities. “They go to (the University of Illinois at) Champaign.
‘It’s important to shoot for those goals. These kids have they brains.
“They need to give it a shot.”
And a big challenge facing today’s youth is the lack of exercise, according to Rossi.
“We used to go to the park, to Divine Savior (Church grounds) and have pick-up games,” he said. “Now the parks and playgrounds are empty.
“Kids don’t get up ‘til 11 a.m., noon. That’s not healthy.”