BROOMFIELD — A giant bear hug from his girls basketball players after the horn sounded. A few tears — just enough welled up in his eyes for everyone to know it truly meant something.
And then, as high a toss of the game ball as Holy Family coach Ron Rossi could muster.
Welcome to the 500 club, coach Rossi.
On Saturday afternoon at Holy Family High School, Rossi’s Class 4A No. 5-ranked Tigers were pitted in an intense game against No. 8 Berthoud with more than a milestone win on the line. The Tigers needed victory to secure a tie with Windsor for the Tri-Valley League title, as well.
With as many meaningful games as Rossi has been part of, it was pretty poetic that coaching victory No. 500 — Rossi’s win total includes that of his time with the Lakewood boys from 1976-92 and with HFHS since 2004 — had more grand implications.
Berthoud gave the Tigers all they could handle, but there was no denying Rossi and his girls from getting the opportunity to rip off a well-glued “499” from a poster hanging on the gym bricks to reveal a bold “500” underneath. Holy Family won, 52-41, for its 18th win of 2018-19.
“This one means a lot because of the adversity we were in, just because of the makeup games and the fact we have played five games in seven days” Rossi said after the game, his 330th with HFHS. “The girls found a way to keep believing, to not give up to the idea they wanted to be league champions. That’s the history for them — the string of league titles we have.”
Rossi has six state championships in girls basketball — and his teams have made deep runs in the past few years, as well as Holy Family transitioned to 4A.
Through it all, Rossi said he still enjoys coaching the game, particularly because of the level as which his girls dedicate themselves to the team game he encourages. Defense translating to offense is his bread and butter, but Rossi was not hesitant to mention the talent level in girls hoops has simply flourished of late.
It makes it all the more enjoyable, he said.
“I just still enjoy the game, and the thrill of the game and working with kids to become better human beings, better young ladies is just as exciting as winning a state title,” Rossi said. “The girls game has progressed, and it’s fun to watch and fun to coach. They compete just as hard as guys and they play the game the right way. It’s a pleasure to be a part of that.”
One of those talents is senior Amanda Ward, who has started on games since her sophomore year. To be part of the festivities Saturday was a blessing, she said.
“Sometimes you think about a question to ask, but then you just tend to tell yourself, it’s Rossi, he knows what he’s doing,” said Ward, who had eight points and will look forward on Sunday to seeing where the Tigers will land in the 4A postseason bracket. “It was really fun to be part of. Now it’s 500, and you just hope that over these next few years he gets 550, 600 … keep going. He’s ‘Rocket’ Ron for (his energy).”
Rossi’s legacy transfers beyond the courts of basketball. Last year’s Denver Post Dave Sanders Award winner was also awarded Jeffco League coach of the year in three different sports. He’s coached softball, boys and girls tennis and even gymnastics.
Talk about a man for all seasons.
After giving his post-game speech to his girls Saturday, Rossi was caught in another embrace — by that of longtime friend and CHSAA Hall of Fame member Tom Fincken. The two reminisced for a brief moment before a certain name was brought up — another name that brought a few tears to Rossi’s eyes. That name was Bob McKendry, who coached Rossi at Arvada West High School.
“A great influence in my life, and someone that I can say, I would not be a coach if it weren’t for him,” Rossi said.
Holy Family 52, Berthoud 41
At Holy Family HS
BERTHOUD (18-4, 12-3)
Cavey 3 9-14 18, Leeper 1 4-4 7, Padilla 2 0-0 4, Rennaker 0 1-2 1, Carr 2 0-0 6, Selland 2 1-2 5. Totals 10 15-22 41.
HOLY FAMILY (17-5, 14-1)
McKenzie 0 4-7 4, Gudino 5 4-4 17, Thomas 0 0-0 0, Sanders 0 0-0 0, Wells 2 0-0 6, Gardon 0 0-0 0, Whitlock 3 0-1 7, Ward 2 4-4 8, Aanerud 4 2-4 10, Winters 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 14-20 52.
Score by quarters:
Berthoud 14 8 8 11 — 41
3-point field goals — Berthoud (6): Cavey 3, Carr 2, Leeper; Holy Family (6): Gudino 3, Wells 2, Whitlock. Total fouls — Berthoud 20, Holy Family 17. Fouled out — Aanerud. Technical fouls — None.