Coach, Teacher Loves Being “Safe Place” for Kids
As the former Y gymnastics director, Miss Rose holds a strong, 32-year history with the La Crosse Area Family YMCA. Today, she continues to enjoy coaching gymnastics and building relationships with those in her programs. “The kids and parents appreciate what I do. It’s especially a bonus to work with the children of people I’ve coached,” says Miss Rose. “I’m energized by people.” Her energy shines not only as a gymnast, coach, and special needs teacher, but also as a successful athlete. She regularly competes in triathlons, swimming, and running.
Emily Keim felt surprised to learn that her former gymnastics coach would instruct her daughter, 9-year-old Macy. “It was strange at first, but it’s becoming a ‘new normal,’” Emily says. “Coach Rose’s ability to reach the kids at whatever level they are at is amazing.” When Miss Rose coached her, “she was like our mom,” Emily says. “She’s a very good role model.” The Erickson family also benefits from her expertise. “My daughter Hanna loves teachers who like structure and order,” Heidi Erickson says.
Miss Rose’s gymnastics career began early. Already a brave explorer at age 2, she scaled a tall, upright piano in her home and jumped off. Rose was 7 when her mother discovered a community schools gymnastics program nearby. The rest is history. Competing in the program with a successful team, Rose won a scholarship to attend Western Michigan University in her hometown.
Later, Rose learned about La Crosse, Wisconsin, while coaching summer gymnastics in New York. She met residents from La Crosse, which eventually led to a visit. She enjoyed the city so much that that she moved here in 1984. She’s been involved with the Y since then. “Anything that involves kids, I’m all in,” Miss Rose says. “They show me that not everything in life has to be hard. They keep me having fun.” For three decades, she coached gymnastics, swimming, and diving. She also worked with the women’s nautilus program.
She naturally forms bonds with people she meets, including her fellow members in the Bluff Busters Tri Team. Rose’s adventurous lifestyle has caused her foot and neck injuries. With her passion for physical activity, she doesn’t allow those to slow her down. Instead she finds different ways at the Y to train, heal, and exercise. She never takes her health for granted. “Every time I get to run, I cannot believe it,” she says with a smile.
Miss Rose has a busy career as a long-time special education teacher in the public schools. She always makes time for children in classrooms, gyms, and other places. She and her husband have provided foster and respite care for 18 years. She served as a ski/snowboard instructor at Mount La Crosse. The then owner allowed her to start a free program for kids with disabilities, fittingly called Rose’s Kids for 22 years. “I like to be a safe place for those kids who might be having a tough time,” she says. – by Kim Seidel, Seidel Ink LLC