It’s always an emotional scene when one of Dana Rosselot’s Saline High School soccer teams breaks up and leaves the field for the final time. Rosselot builds a strong connection with her players every year – and saying goodbye – especially to the seniors – never comes without tears.
The moment was even more poignant two weeks ago when Saline fell to the eventual state champions from Novi in the regional championship. It was Rosselot’s final game as head coach of the Hornets. Rosselot, who’d already given up her job as boys’ varsity soccer coach, is stepping away to spend more time with her growing family. She’ll continue to teach physical education in the district.
It was not an easy decision, but it’s the right one for her family.
“It’s truly been one of the greatest honors of my life to be able to coach this program,” Rosselot said.
Rosselot played four years of varsity soccer for coach the late Rachael Townsend, who also taught at Saline. Townsend died at the age of 29 after running the Chicago Marathon in 2003.
“Beyond my family, she was the biggest influence in my life. I always have her in the back of my mind every time I step on the field,” Rosselot said. “I hope coach is proud of the job I did.”
Rosselot and the Hornets have good reason for pride.
When Dana Rosselot took over as varsity girls soccer coach a little more than 10 years ago, the program was solid but unspectacular. The Hornets could beat the Monroes and Bedfords, but they couldn’t survive the “murderers’ row” of Ann Arbor schools in the SEC.
After a decade of Rosselot’s leadership, the Hornets are the class of the SEC Red and perennially one of the top teams in the state. They’ve won seven district championships in eight years. They’ve made the final eight in five of the last seven years. They won the regional in 2015 and 2017 and won the state championship in 2015. In 2014, Rosselot’s boys’ team went to the state semifinal – its deepest foray into the post season.
Rosselot’s biggest fans are her players.
Hannah Bird played for the state championship team. She said she trusted her coach because she could see how loved the game and how much she understood the game.
“Dana is the kind of coach that makes you want to be better every day. She is someone I looked up to and respected immensely because of her coaching style and how much she respected each individual player, the team as a whole, our opponents, and the sport in general,” Bird said.
Bird also admired her honesty.
“Coach Dana always said it how it was and never tried to cover things up. She pointed out or mistakes and helped us to fix those, all because she cared. I really don’t know if I can put into words the impact that coach Dana has had on me, but I am forever grateful for her and all that she has done for me,” Bird said.
She remembers Rosselot’s support when she suffered her second ACL injury.
“She was there for me through the whole thing and reminded me to have strength and support for my team,” Bird said.
Sydney Jarvela was also a member of the state championship squad. She was impressed by Rosselot’s dedication to the team, on and off the field.
“Dana had your best interest whether it was where to play you on the field or your every day school life. I’ve never had a coach that was so invested in her players and It showed, especially in the post season, and the behind the scenes team bonding that not everyone got to see! My best soccer memories were made while she was my coach,” Jarvela said.
Amanda Zylstra played four years of varsity soccer for Rosselot and starred during Saline’s state championship season. She said Rosselot brought intensity and knowledge to the team.
“It was an honor to have had the chance to play for Dana for four years. I have never met someone so dedicated to a program. Dana’s intensity and ability to push every player to improve every day was what separates her from other coaches. She is extremely knowledgeable about the sport and always knew how to prepare and play to her team’s strengths,” Zylstra said. “She truly built Saline Soccer into a dynasty. I can’t thank her enough for everything she has done for Saline soccer and for me as a student athlete.”