By MICHAEL ALEXANDER, Staff Photographer | Published August 7, 2014
ATLANTA—David Rosenzweig is taking on a new title at Atlanta’s Holy Spirit Prep School. Already serving as the assistant principal of student leadership and teaching advanced placement modern European history, now he will also be known as the head football coach.
The independent Catholic school’s revamped football coaching staff includes Rosenzweig and three first-year assistant coaches. John Spann is the strength and conditioning coach and linebacker and running back coach; Michael Karafotias is the line coach; and Shawn Allen is the defense and wide receiver coach. Spann and Karafotias teach history and math, respectively, at the school. Allen is a community coach.
While a rookie as head coach, Rosenzweig is a seasoned assistant who assumed those duties in 2010, the year he began working at the school. For two years he was the team’s offensive coordinator. In his third year, Rosenzweig became the department chair for the social studies department and took two years off from coaching. For the 2014 season he returns as the head coach and offensive coordinator.
For the past eight months, the fledgling team has been getting ready for the season, with winter workouts December to April three days a week, spring football for two weeks in April and early morning workouts this summer three days a week.
After three years in the Glory for Christ football league, Holy Spirit’s football program is returning to the Georgia Independent School Association. While making final team preparations with the season just three weeks away, he stopped to field some questions from The Georgia Bulletin.
Holy Spirit will play North Georgia of Canton at home in its first game on Aug. 22.
Q: Holy Spirit Prep’s 2011 championship was followed by two losing seasons in 2012 (4-5) and 2013 (1-8). Can you explain the drop off and how you plan to turn things around?
A: After we won the title on 11-11-11, we lost the bulk of our coaches and student leaders. All but one of our coaches moved, and I took two years off. Our extraordinary seniors, seven guys who had played together for years, graduated. During that title season, only one junior was on the roster. It left a void in coaches experienced at Holy Spirit Preparatory and in players to assume the leadership roles our amazing class of 2011 left empty. In 2013, the number of players dropped to a level where preseason practice was unsustainable and, by the end of a losing season, many had lost the motivation to keep playing.
My goal is to recruit our own students to play and build a serious program from the ground up. What we are building is almost like HSP football 2.0, especially with the return to GISA after going 1-8 in the Glory for Christ league. That decision may seem drastic considering our lack of success in GFC the past two years, but our community is committed to playing football at a high level and being competitive. The off-season workouts have been a great jump-start to get the kids motivated and in shape. Our efforts to work with our parents to support the program have proven to be a critical component of our team.
Q: What is your personal coaching philosophy?
A: Football is a test of perseverance, mental fortitude, physical strength, trust in teammates, belief in coaches, and so much more. This is why I dedicate so much of my time to a game that I love. I always enjoyed the mental challenge of a chess match. Coaching football during games is very similar. It’s X’s and O’s and the execution of the overall team strategy.
Q: Who are the coaches you admire and why?
A: “Da Coach,” Mike Ditka, is a legend in my hometown of Chicago. I admire him for his tenacity, honesty and dedication to something larger than himself.
What Mark Dantonio at Michigan State has done is truly amazing. Winning the Rose Bowl this past year with recruits that were overlooked by so many other programs pinpoints his style. He gets his players to believe in a system (and) work harder than anyone else and maintains expectations that may seem crazy to others, but it pushes his players harder. The results are obvious for all to see.
Q: Where did you grow up in Chicago and what do you remember most about it?
A: I grew up on the north side of Chicago in Lake Forest, Illinois. I would say that my high school’s most famous alumnus is Vince Vaughn. “Ordinary People,” the story of a Lake Forest family directed by Robert Redford, was filmed on location in Lake Forest in 1980 and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Q: Who is your favorite professional team when it comes to football and any other sport of your choice?
A: I love the Chicago Bears in the NFL and Chelsea in the English Premier League.
Q: Did you play football in high school or college?
A: I played soccer and volleyball in high school until an injury called an aneurysmal bone cyst ended my high school sports career during my sophomore year. Since then I’ve had multiple knee surgeries including tearing my meniscus twice, MCL, LCL and more, so my playing days are behind me!