ROCKFORD (WREX) — As a coach, Steve Rossa was always prepared. His toughness permeated his teams, which makes his death due to COVID-19 complications tough to deal with for those close to him.
"Everybody's kind of in disbelief," Rockford Lutheran head football coach Tony Ambrogio, who coached for many years with Rossa, said. "It's going to be one of those things you look back in ten years like, 'Man I wish this guy was still around.' Even next week I'll probably be like that. This COVID season definitely puts a strain on everybody."
Rossa coached alongside Ambrogio in stints at Christian Life, Jefferson and Rockford Lutheran. Rossa was that prototypical offensive line coach.
"As a friend coach is a gruff dude," Ambrogio explains. "He's going to tell it how it is and keep me in line. He was always waving the imaginary fishing pole like reeling me in, telling me we can't do this or have to stay on task with that. He's that old school coach.
"He would go right before me in the pregame speeches. He would have some fired up speech to give everybody, talking about his mastodons. He would call himself 'Coach Blood' because he was always out for blood, so to speak. I was like, 'You're like a teddy bear dude, what are you even talking about?'"
A teddy bear demeanor off the field, with a punch them in the mouth attitude on the field.
"His toughness and his way of teaching football doesn't go out of style," Ambrogio said. "Being tough and being prepared."
Toughness and preparation. Coach Rossa's signature traits will live on through football players everywhere.