ELKHART — A couple months on the job has been long enough to confirm to Jacquie Rost that being athletic director at Elkhart Memorial High School won’t ever get in the way of her ability or desire to remain the Crimson Chargers’ volleyball coach.
That doesn’t mean, though, that nothing will get in the way of Rost continuing as one of Elkhart County’s all-time most successful sideline gurus.
“I don’t know when, but it’s going to be my kids,” Rost said of what might eventually cause her to step aside.
Rost, who earned her 500th career varsity victory earlier this week in just her 19th season — then paused long enough to reflect on a variety of topics — has a fifth-grade son, Dylan, and first-grade son, Quinn, with her husband of 17 years, Scott Rost, who also happens to be the Crimson Chargers’ baseball coach.
“I have a feeling wanting to watch them and their athletics will outweigh all the positives I’ve gotten out of coaching volleyball,” Jacquie Rost predicted of her sons.
“Dylan’s in travel baseball, and plays football and basketball, and Quinn’s starting to do some of that stuff, and when I’m coaching at a club volleyball tourney in Florida and my husband is texting that Dylan’s up to bat, and I’m not able to see it, I don’t feel too good about that,” Rost said. “So, I don’t think it’ll be the (AD) position that drives me out. It’ll be my family and wanting to be at their stuff. And that’ll be all right, because I won’t let Memorial volleyball, or any other sport, suffer. I just know how quickly (childhood) goes, and I don’t want to miss my boys experiencing it.”
Rost said it “might be different if I had a daughter. That might be extra motivation to keep coaching, but they’re boys, so I realize they never will play volleyball for me.”
Plenty of other individuals have played volleyball for Rost, though, and this week’s milestone has served as a sweet review of that.
“One of the most awesome things about this,” Rost said of her 500th win, “has been the ton of calls and emails from ex-players, and some of those players tweeting and putting things on Facebook. It makes me feel good.”
Rost — a 1989 Memorial graduate who played volleyball, basketball and softball for the school as Jacquie Minelli — says she has appreciated being able to return to her alma mater to influence others in a positive manner over the years.
“It’s been really important to me to help create and develop strong women,” Rost said. “I think sometimes females aren’t raised to be competitive, and I want them to know it’s OK to want to win. I hope I’ve encouraged girls to go after what they want, and to be willing to do the work, and to not be afraid to articulate what they want. I think sometimes, and not just girls, but all of us in society, we’d rather not try and fail, so we don’t try at all. I’d rather work hard and fail than sit back and watch, and I hope I’ve modeled that for the girls.”
Along the way, there has been a whole lot of on-court winning.
Rost has shaped Memorial volleyball into one of the state’s best-regarded programs. Besides a 501-133 record, including the Thursday, Sept. 12, sweep of Concord, there have been four State Finals appearances — including Class 4A state runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2009 — seven sectional titles and, from 2002 to 2011, 10 straight Northern Lakes Conference crowns.
The 500th victory, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, came fittingly enough at Mishawaka’s Cave, the same place where Rost and Memorial broke through a barrier and earned the program’s first sectional crown in 2003.
“I’ll never forget winning that, because (then-Mishawaka coach) Steve Anderson, who was always a mentor to me, was the first person to congratulate me,” Rost said. “We beat them when they were at their best, and we beat Concord and Penn in a really competitive sectional. Allison Sears was a junior on that team, and now she’s on my staff.”
Who is on Rost’s staff, as well others who surround her, remains paramount on Rost’s mind.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have good people around me, and smart enough to be able to keep them around me,” said Rost, who was named AD in early July after Frank Kurth became an assistant principal. “Like with this new position, most days it’s been interesting and great and I love it, but then there have been a couple days that I’ve thought, ‘Oh, gosh, this might’ve been a mistake.’ So, I’ve been blessed to have the people I have in every part of it. (Assistant AD) Phyllis Tubbs and (secretary) Rose Stanley, they just don’t miss a beat. And at home, my husband is so supportive, and I have my mom and stepdad. Our administration’s been so supportive of me (continuing as a coach while being AD), and I’ve got the best volleyball staff. All of them could be head coaches.”
Jacquie Rost By The Numbers
500 — Varsity volleyball wins, in 19 seasons against 133 losses, after Tuesday’s win at Mishawaka.
76 — Consecutive NLC victories from 2001 to 2011, including 10 straight unbeaten league seasons from 2002 to 2011.
7 — Sectional titles, including an existing streak of six in a row.
4 — State Finals appearances, including runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2009.
2 — Seasons chosen statewide Coach of the Year by her peers, in 2003 and 2007. She also was North Coach of the Year in 2009.
For more from a conversation with Rost, visit Basket Blog at etruth.com.