A recognizable name in Saint Ignatius athletics is returning to the Wildcats football program, bringing some youth to the coaching staff.
Rocky Zingale '13 has joined the freshman football coaching staff, coming aboard as the team's wide receivers coach.
Once a star for the Football Cats, Zingale will now bring his playing experience and energy to the table for the freshman squad.
"With Rocky, he's a former player who is finding time to be able to lock that part of the day in and help us out," says Head Football Coach Chuck Kyle '69. "I'm excited about getting him involved and bring him into the fold. It's nice to have a young guy who can demonstrate the drills better than a guy my age."
Zingale's Wildcat story begins with him joining the freshman football squad back in 2009, when this year's incoming freshmen (the Class of 2024) were just entering pre-school or kindergarten. Zingale started at wideout right away, and continued to start as a sophomore at the JV level.
Zingale earned the promotion to the varsity squad as a junior. After the Wildcats missed the playoffs in 2010, the team enjoyed a resurgence in 2011. The quest, dubbed "Eleven in '11", resulted in a shiny gold trophy, the 11th state title in program history. The Sts. Joseph & John grad played a significant part as a trusty wide receiver with 3 receptions for 34 yards.
Zingale's senior season was nearly as unforgettable but ended in a heartbreaking triple OT defeat to Mentor, 57-56. Still, Zingale enjoyed a nice season with 36 catches for 640 yards for a team-best 17.9 yards per catch, and tying for the team lead with 7 touchdown catches. And along the way, he made lasting memories.
"My career didn't end the way it wanted to, but the guys from the 2011 and 2012 teams are brothers for life," Zingale says.
Following his graduation from Saint Ignatius, Zingale headed to Ohio University. He graduated with a sports management degree after a fun four years.
From there, he launched a sales career. In his role as a Loan Officer for Nations Lending, Zingale helps people buy their first property and get into better financial situations. Long-term, Zingale hopes to build a career in sports, perhaps in coaching.
As the wideouts coach for the Freshmen Cats, Zingale hopes to build a solid foundation of coaching experience.
"First off, I want to be a better version of myself, which means not mimicking anyone else," Zingale says. "I want to pick up attributes and knowledge from the great coaches at Saint Ignatius. Coach Kyle has been such a good influence in my life. I hope I can absorb knowledge from him and attain some of his qualities."
An important aspect for Zingale will be the mentorship of the young Wildcats. It goes far beyond football, in his eyes.
"I want to show them how to be successful on the field and in day-to-day life at Ignatius," Zingale says. "I want to help with any issues or problems. I want to be a set of eyes, ears, a voice for them."
Part of that equation is teaching life lessons, such as how to deal with rejection.
"I'll talk definitely about is failures I've experienced," Zingale continues. "No one plans for failure. You always think, 'I'm going to be first. I'm going to get an A.' But there is always a bump in a road. You're going to be late to class, you'll likely get a JUG, or the coach makes you run sprints because you didn't do drill right. I want to show the kids that this instruction, this correction, is for your best interest. The small things are going to be important. I want to push them and treat them like adults. They are 14-15 years old, but you need to hold them to high expectations. They'll be up for it."
Mark Ruddy '90, the new head coach of the freshman squad, is excited to have Zingale on the staff.
"Rocky is going to be great. He isn't that far removed from playing, so he will really be able to relate to the players as we teach them our system. Rocky is passionate about Saint Ignatius Football and is going to be an awesome addition to our staff."