Albion varsity star also is committed youth football coach
Tyler Rotoli has a passion for football, mentoring young players
ALBION – Last Friday, Tyler Rotoli ran for 142 yards in leading the Albion varsity football team to a 27-14 win over rival Medina.
Early the next morning, Rotoli was at his job at Burger King at 5:30, getting the Main Street location ready for the day. He worked till lunch and then hustled to Oakfield to join a team of 10- and 11-year-olds from Albion. That team had a big playoff game against Medina.
Rotoli is one of the coaches of the youth team, the offensive coordinator for a group that likes to throw the football and break off long runs. Rotoli has taught the team more than 70 plays, many of the formations and techniques from the varsity team.
This year was the first time the JV youth squad made the playoffs in years.
Rotoli has juggled his varsity schedule, his work at Burger King, and his homework with a devotion to practices and games with the youth team.
“He’s a natural born leader,” said head coach Geno Allport, who coached Rotoli when he played on the youth teams. “He has the passion and he has the heart.”
Allport said it’s unusual to see a high school player anywhere in the region be so committed to working with a youth program. Besides Rotoli, Jared Hollinger also has been working with the Albion youth program. Hollinger is a junior lineman for the varsity team.
Rotoli is running back, quarterback, linebacker, whatever position the teams needs him. He preaches unselfishness and a “Team First” attitude for the youth players. He fires them up before the game, and shouts encouragement and instruction throughout the contests.
After a tough loss to Medina on Sept. 19, Rotoli gathered the group on the sideline, reminding them to keep working hard in practices. The team would close out the regular season with several victories.
“I just want to give back to the next generation and be a positive role model,” Rotoli said. “You don’t really remember the wins and losses. You remember the coaches.”
Rotoli, 17, said Allport has been a steady and positive influence in his life for many years.
“He’s been there through the ups and downs,” Rotoli said.
He knows some of the players need male role models. That is part of his drive to be at the practices and games, even when he is fighting exhaustion.
“All I want to do is touch another life,” Rotoli said. “I want to be that big brother to somebody else and motivate them.”
Rotoli aged out of youth football after seventh grade. In eighth grade, he offered to help with some of the youth teams. His younger brother Junior plays on this year’s JV team. Two of Rotoli’s cousins, Amari and Javon Jones, also are on the team.
Rotoli found as an eighth-grader that the kids responded to his instruction. The following year he took an on-line program and became a certified coach. That program makes sure coaches know proper techniques for tackling. (Click here for more information.)
Allport said Rotoli typically calls the plays on offense, and the team usually finds the end zone several times a game.
“I gave him freedom to run the offense because he knows what he’s doing,” Allport said.
Most of the JV youth players would watch Rotoli during Friday home games at the varsity field. The next day, Rotoli would join them for their game. Allport said Rotoli inspires the kids “to see where they can go” as a varsity player.
Rotoli is considering majoring in criminal justice in college so he can work as a police officer. Allport is hopeful Rotoli will stay in the area after college, and continue to coach and work with the youth football players.
Allport also said Hollinger has been a big help with the youth football program. He and Rotoli help set up the field and with clean up after the games.
“You’re not going to find kids that busted their butts more than those two,” Allport said.
Rotoli said he would like to be a coach in the future. He enjoys the life lessons with the game, and often gives fiery speeches to the players.
“If you work hard, you get good outcomes,” he tells the players when they’re doing push-ups or finishing sprints.
“You got to be disciplined,” he bellows.
Rotoli said spewing those words has been good for him. It reminds him he needs to keep working hard, too, including the early morning shifts at Burger King following an away game on Friday.
“I’m preaching you need discipline and perseverance,” he said. “It motivates me, too.”