Bob Del Rosa, the longtime coach of the Case Western Reserve University Wrestling Team, passed away last night following complications from surgery earlier this summer. He was entering his 50th year at Case and his 46th as head coach of the wrestling team. He had recently been replaced on an interim basis by Chris Nader with the hopes that he would recover enough to return to the mats. In his five decades of service, he coached wrestling, baseball, tennis, and football and served as NCAA Compliance Coordinator. His wrestling teams had four NCAA champions, 18 All-Americans, and 35 NWCA Scholar All-Americans. He is a member of both the Division III Wrestling and Case Halls of Fame. He left an indelible mark on Case and on the lives of countless men who had him as a coach.
Coach Del Rosa recruited me when I was in high school in Northeast Ohio. I wanted a school with wrestling and engineering, and Case was on my short list. I ended up going to another school, but he was always friendly to me and my parents as I went through my college career. When I wrestled my last match in college, he was in the opposite corner, and he had been an encouragement earlier in the tournament. I would continue to see him throughout my coaching career at the Wheaton Invitational or the NCAA Championships, and he always had a smile on his face. There was no doubt he loved doing what he did, or else he would not have kept at it for 45 years. It is unfortunate that his coaching career did not end on his terms, but he also was not the kind of person who would just retire, so maybe it could not have ended any other way.
I will miss seeing him this March at the NCAA Championships in La Crosse and every March after that. Division III wrestling is better for having had him as a part of it ever since the beginning. He got to finish his career with an All-American (Isaac Dukes) and a Hall of Fame inductee (Zak Kallai) in the same season, which to me seems like a pretty good way to end things. It is also fitting that one of his former wrestlers and assistant coaches, Chris Nader, will take over for him and continue to instill the same values that Coach Del Rosa built throughout his 49 years at Case.