It’s not just the football that Fennville’s new coach preaches

Richard Roth is not like most football coaches, nor is he like most pastors.

The fact that it is both makes it so unique.

Fennville High School athletic director John Guillean recently announced that the Blackhawks have hired Roth to become the program’s college football coach. Roth is also the pastor of Corner Bible Church in Allegan.

Roth said working with youth through sport and being a pastor go hand in hand, as both calls are opportunities to positively impact a community.

“I feel like it goes hand in hand, even though it’s different in developing people,” Roth said. “The role of the pastor and its functionality, you want to impact the community in the best possible way. Football is also a healthy way to do it. “

Roth was previously a college football coach at Colon and Bloomingdale. He will now assume the coaching duties at Fennville, which will travel to the 8-a-side game next season.

Roth is originally from Athens. He went on to study at Kellogg Community College and then at Western Michigan University. He was eventually transferred to Spring Arbor University after deciding to continue the ministry.

“Along the way, my wife and I started going to church,” Roth said. “It was one of those things that I was called to ministry to help create better people.”

Roth played college baseball before a shoulder injury ended his career. He eventually decided to become a coach, but football was not the first game he coached.

“Because I went to college to play baseball, I started coaching baseball,” he said. “I remember a kid who hit a home run inside the park. It was a big park, and I was standing at third base, shouting, “Go home. Go home.’ I realized pretty quickly that the men’s game of baseball was not the level of excitement I had brought to the table. I made the transition to football. “

Coaches are notorious for getting angry and may even say a bad word or two. Roth said that just because he’s a pastor doesn’t mean he’s different from any other coach.

“I’m an excitable guy. I’m a very intense football coach, but I’m also a very intense pastor, ”Roth added. “It’s not one of those things where I’m a different person on the football field than when I’m teaching the Word. I am the same person no matter where I am.

“But the best part of it is that it opens up the possibility for people to see a real human being and not just a pastor – a struggling person. It’s something we always talk about. I’m a pastor but I’m still human and we make mistakes in some areas. We act like an idiot, for lack of a better term, because we all know we do it sometimes. What did I just do? You can answer this question and say that if your focus is on making young men through football, there is no better way to do it than to admit failure on your part.

Roth is Fennville’s fifth football coach in the past five seasons. Cannon Groff was an interim coach last season after Shad Fish accepted an administrative position in another school district.

About Walter Bartholomew

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