Football lifer Rosenbaum instilling lifelong values as MMA head coach

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 8/24/22

First-year head coach Robert Rosenbaum at Missouri Military Academy has been on a football field just about every year of his life.

The love of the game started when he was eight years old and …

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Football lifer Rosenbaum instilling lifelong values as MMA head coach


First-year head coach Robert Rosenbaum at Missouri Military Academy has been on a football field just about every year of his life.

The love of the game started when he was eight years old and eventually brought him to his first head coaching gig at the boys boarding school in Mexico.

“Coach Pops,” as he has been called at the various stops before starting practice with the Colonels, has been coaching at the high school level for 18 years, save for last year when he took a break from the game to play golf.

“I joined an amateur player tour,” Rosenbaum said. “I just got my competitive juices that way. My son (Ross Rosenbaum), I told him, ‘I got to do something.’”

Rosenbaum’s competitive nature didn’t keep him away from the gridiron for long as MMA had a head coach opening available late last year that it still needed filled in the winter. The school announced Rosenbaum as the new head coach in February.

Prior to this season, Rosenbaum has coached in Hamilton, at Cameron, Gallatin, North Callaway and Plattsburg, holding offensive and defensive coordinator positions. Before that, he coached in the Pop Warner league in Kansas City after playing in semi-professional leagues while he was serving in the United States Marine Corps from 1982-85.

“When I was over in Okinawa, we were pretty successful and they had a pretty good football team,” Rosenbaum said. “When I realized I wasn’t going to play anymore, that was probably when I was 35-36.”

Rosenbaum’s time in the Marines was “something he needed” at that point in his life and thought it was such a fulfilling experience, he wishes he served his full 20 years of military service.

“Like being in a sports team, there is a lot of camaraderie, a lot of brotherhood,” Rosenbaum said. “Other than the fact, sometimes, they put you in harm’s way and stuff like that, it’s not that bad of a situation.”

Rosenbaum said he experienced much of that camaraderie in football and helps establish some as a coach. He does try to keep things light at practice but wants his players to understand there are rules they need to follow.

In what was MMA’s first full practices at the beginning of the fall season Aug. 8, Rosenbaum stressed to the 2022 Colonels that they should be ready for practice on time and that they should not leave one item on the locker room floor.

His beliefs can be traced back all the way to beginning with his parents and really emphasized when he was in the Marine Corps. To this day, making his bed is one of the first things he does when he wakes up in the morning.

“What I stressed to the kids is, because it’s what was stressed to me and helped me in life, it gives you direction and it teaches you discipline,” Rosenbaum said. “If you’re disciplined with the little things – keeping the locker room clean, being on time – it’s easier in life later when you’re in the real world.”

Rosenbaum is approaching 60 years old but isn’t a “back in my day” type of man because the world has changed. He said he wasn’t a weightlifter as a player like what is expected from athletes nowadays because kids used to work outdoors a lot on farms. Now, he recognizes the importance of lifting consistently to help maintain conditioning and build muscle mass.

Even with the roster he inherits this season at MMA, Rosenbaum has noticed there are many athletic players that specialize in speed rather than power, which thrive in spread offenses.

Something that has consistently been tied to success, though, is the importance of blocking and tackling, or even bigger picture, the desire to be on the field.

“It’s great to have 60 kids out for a sport,” Rosenbaum said. “But, out of the 60, if you’ve got 20 that only really want to be there, then the other 40 are just going to give you headaches. I’m going to do whatever I can to help you get whatever you want to do as long as you give me the effort back. It ain’t going to come without effort from the player.”

A good coach can make all the difference, Rosenbaum said, as he was blessed to play good coaches in his life.

“I can’t really remember a time when I had a coach that I couldn’t get stuff out of or just had good respect for,” Rosenbaum said.

Even in his 18th year of coaching high school football, Rosenbaum said there is some adjusting he needed to do as MMA enrolls kids from out of the state so they aren’t available for summer camps. He ran a camp at the end of the school year for those interested, and about six or seven participated. Rosenbaum describes himself as “an old-school, throwback” coach but was accustomed to the new-school summer camps setup.

Regardless, he likes the group of kids that appeared for fall practices and said “life feels better” in August when Friday nights will feature football soon. Seeing the growth of children during their time on a team gives Rosenbaum the most fulfillment now.

“My enjoyment out of it is – yeah, of course I want to win, I want to be competitive, I want the team to reflect all that – just seeing the kids that are actually out there working their tails off,” Rosenbaum said. “You get to see them grow. In Gallatin, I was there for seven or eight years so I got to see a lot of the kids come through the program. You see them when they’re young freshmen or sophomore when they come out, and by the time they’re seniors, they’re good, productive football players.”


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