QZ93 Sports

Co-head coaches laid a solid foundation

In District 5, Football, Rockwood, Turkeyfoot Valley, WestPAC on June 29, 2009 at 11:25 pm

For five years, co-head coaches Jon Hale and Adam Rullo built a Rockwood football program.

In that time, the roster expanded from its original size of 16, the team made three playoff appearances and the groundwork has been laid for successful seasons to come. Now, the young coaches are moving on, leaving the reins to longtime assistant Jerry Kaizen.

But Rullo and Hale aren’t going far, and they certainly won’t be without a close eye on the program they developed.

“It was a great experience for a young coaching staff,” said Hale, who took over the program with Rullo when each was only 22 years old. “There was a love for football there. It was great to take it from its infancy to its adolescence. And that’s where I think it is now. The kids were excited and they always put forth the most effort a coach can ask for. I’m excited to see where the program goes with Kaizen at the helm.”

Hale was the first of the two to step down when he was promoted to elementary school principal in the district. Rullo, meanwhile, had an opportunity to take the school’s athletic director position and accepted the offer. His new role begins July 1. Rullo will continue to teach in the district in addition to the AD position.

His thought process was similar to Hale’s, deciding ultimately that the additional AD role would take away some of the focus necessary to lead the football team.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to coach football anymore, I still wanted to,” said Rullo, who directed the offense while at Rockwood. “But this was the best thing for me. I’m going to miss football and that was the hardest decision. I knew I couldn’t do both. I felt that learning this new role and being the AD is a lot of responsibility and I couldn’t be faithful to football and be the athletic director.”

Like Hale, Rullo was always accessible during their tenure, and he doesn’t expect that to be any different in the new role. In fact, he’s looking forward to branching out.

“I’m passionate about sports and have been a big supporter of Rockwood athletics in my five years here,” said Rullo, who also is a member of the Somerset Volunteer Fire Department. “I tried to make a lot of events, no matter what sport, and I’m looking forward to working with all the programs and establishing my role.

“I’m going to have an open door and if anyone wants to communicate on the issues, I’ll be there the best that I can and do the best I can to be supportive of everything. Sports help you learn so much about life and you want to carry that on. I look forward to growing with these kids.”

Hale recalled the camaraderie among the coaches within and outside the program as some of his fondest memories.

“It was a pleasure coaching with Adam and against all the quality coaches in the area,” said Hale, who coached on the Rockets’ defense. “There are a lot of quality coaches that are willing to guide young coaches and help them out. They may be your opponent Week 1, but Week 2 they are your guide.”

Hale and Rullo recalled several firsts during their tenure at Rockwood, including their first varsity win, against Westmont. Hale also thought of the players that have come through the system under their watch.

“Seeing your first player, Jon Hay, go off to college to play football to watching the last senior player this year walk off stage at graduation,” Hale said. “As a coach you only hope that some of the lessons you try to teach the kids on and off the field stick with them for life. That’s the kind of things you coach for. It’s not for the money or experience. It’s for the chance to impact the lives of young people.”

Said Rullo: “We came into (that first) camp and had 16 kids on the team. It was an infant team not knowing what to expect. We had two 22-year-old coaches not knowing what to expect.

“In our first game it took three plays to score a touchdown and seeing the excitement on the kids’ faces and the fans’ faces was incredible,” Rullo continued. “Jon and I can’t take all the praise. It’s been a long ride. Getting the first win in the first game meant a lot. To see the program go from where it was as a junior high program, while we were still in school, and then our first year out of school it was a varsity sport. Our first year in the WestPAC, we went out and made the playoffs. I’m going to look back and remember all those things. I have all the highlight films from each season and I put them in the VCR from time to time. It was definitely an enjoyable time for us.”


  1. […] Hale left the Rockwood program when he was promoted to be the elementary school principal in the district and Rullo departed when he took the athletic director’s position. Rullo takes over for Misty Demchak, who is also the assistant principal at Rockwood. (Read more about Rullo and Hale here.) […]

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