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Interview With Coach Billy Rolle Four Time High School Football Champion

Coach Rolle what year were you born?

I was born in July of 1961

Coach Rolle who are your parent?

My parents were Mr. Billy and Mrs. Frankie Rolle

Do you have any siblings?

Yes, I have two older sibling, Melody Rolle and Zachary Rolle.

Coach are you married, how many years and do you have any children?

Yes, I am married. I  have been married for twenty-eight years and we have two children a son and a daughter.

What city did you live in as a child?

Miami Florida in the city of Coconut Grove.

What was it like growing up in Coconut Grove?

It was a big time family atmosphere, everybody was friendly  what we call the good old days. You could go into anyone’s home and you were welcomed. As well to anyone’s neighborhood.

What role did your parents play in your childhood?

Quit naturally, they were my role models. They both were educators and from that stand point I kind of followed in their footsteps. We were never sheltered from anything. They kind of exposed us to almost every aspect of life. We were told to put God first and everything  else would follow.

What was your favorite sport as a child?

Ah man you wouldn’t believe it. Football you would might naturally think. You know you and I talk all the time, baseball was my favorite but it’s a tossup between football and baseball. But football kind of over shadowed baseball as we became older. I must say that I did love baseball.

What  was it like playing for your father’s baseball team?

It was great, the best part was that I did have some ability, so it’ s not like I was playing because my dad was the coach. We laugh about that a lot. We had a great little team. You and I we talk about it all the time. We remember the good times, the funny times, the victories and the defeats. It was a great experience. It was like one of those deals where winning wasn’t the only thing but it’s the only thing. But we had our shares of crying and laughing. It was great, I wouldn’t trade that experience for nothing in the world.

                                                                                    

What was the name of the youth football program that you played for as a child?

It was called Coconut Grove Hornets, which was the mascot of Carver High School; we wore the same colors and that’s what made Carver alumnus happy.

What role did your father play in the optimist  football program?

My father had a vision for the Coconut Grove Community. He felt like there were enough black role model men in the community that came  from all walks of life and that they could start an athletic program in the community. It was awesome, it was like a spin off from George Washington Carver Senior High School; you know we had SW Boys Club. However, everyone could not go to the Boys Club. He felt like, he and some of his friends along with some family members should open up some opportunities for the kids in the Grove and they pulled it off. That was something nice and I grew up in that football program. I wished that it could have grown into something much larger. Their vision was to acquire  the Old Smokey Incinerator property and convert the property into a youth center. However, this never took place because the property was converted into a fire college. We were disappointed however, they still have a football program in the Coconut Grove Community.

What  high school did you attend and what year did you graduate?

I attended Coral Gables Sr High School and I graduated in 1979.

What was it like attending Coral Gables High School?

I was not all over the place, I was kind of like to myself other than with my friends. It was a good experience from an academic standpoint and athletics. You had to be strong minded and a strong hearted to make it through Coral Gables. I am not going to say that we experience hard times. You could see that if you were not about your business that you could  get left behind whether by choice or other. But the positive outcome was that you had to be strong minded. In our case we attended Coconut Grove Elementary which already was desegregated. From there we attended Carver for grade 7th then attended Ponce De Leon for 8th -9th and finally Gables for grade 10th-12th. So through our school journey we had been exposed  to attending public school with white students. So therefore there were no cultural shock when we attended Coral Gables Senior High School. For some of our friends that attended Francis S. Tucker for elementary school there exposure to white classmates came into play at Carver middle school and to some of them it was a culture shock. With our early exposer and up bringing we were prepared to attend Coral Gables Senior High School.   

What position did you play  in football and What records  do you hold at Coral Gables High School as a defensive back?

Position wise, I played free safety. But in my junior year I played corner back and returned back to playing safety as a senior. I tied an interception record with Skip Alberry and NFL Great Neal Cozy  who was our football idle along with the Grove community. The record was eight interception that lasted over thirty years. Two years ago the interception record was broken by Coconut Grove resident Mark Wynn.

What was your most memorable moment while attending Coral Gables Sr High School?

It was in my junior year and there was a three way football tie between Gables, South Miami and Killian. We  had beat South Miami  but lost to Killian and South Miami beat Killian. To make a long story short. Between the three high school principals, the three schools names were placed in a hat and they pulled names in which South Miami name was selected to advance into the play offs. How the information was processed to us was weird. Around 1:30 pm, Nick Coates  came over the intercom saying my I have your attention and went on to say in a low voice that South Miami High School won the drawing to advance into the football play offs. However, doing this time South Miami had received  the information before us so they got into their cars and drove to Gables High School to taunt us. They drove around the school blowing their car horns celebrating their good news. However, when we heard them we and a large number of the student body ran outside and started throwing  rocks, bottles and sticks at them and in some cashes some of the taunters were pulled out of their cars and beat up. The Coral Gable Police Officers did respond however no arrest were made.  After the dust settled South Miami lost the first round of the play offs. To reframe back that is how the Kansas Tie Breaker came to high school football.Prior to this they searched all over the country to come up with a solution to solve this conflict.

After completing your high school football career did you receive any scholarships?

Yes, I had a couple of scholarship offers. But I ended up choosing FAMU because of my mother and father. FAMU was my parents alma mater. I went on a couple of trips but it was like you are going on the trips for nothing. But it was a good experience to do it.

What was it like transitioning  from Coral Gables Sr High School to Florida A & M University?

It was not a big culture shock. Because, like I said before the Grove was a tight knit community and a lot of  the people from the Grove attended FAMU. So it was kind of like home. You met a lot of people that were from Miami. Some lived in the NW area such as Carol City, Over Town and other areas of Miami, but it was pretty smooth; it was not shocking to me.That’s what made my choice easier because it was more like family. That’s what made it a good transition.

What position did you play at FAMU?

I played Free Safety at A & M.

What was it like to be selected into FLORIDA  A & M FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME?

It was great man, it was like one of those times  were you are honored by your peers. I went to the program. You know every time you go some where you want to leave a good impression or something good that you will be remembered by  and that was good. Even when I look at the National Football League Hall of Fame. Even though  my college Hall of Fame is on a different level I feel the same way. When I watch those guys chills go through my body. Because you have a lot of people that you don’t want to forget and a lot of people to thank. I went through  that, it’s kind of funny,  I had to write a little speech  and it was nice; it’s really a tribute not only to you but to the people that supported you and loved you and nurtured you. That’s who really gets all of the credit. With out the support of people you are nothing. You know, I give a lot of credit to players and coaches.

   

To add to my Hall experience, I am sitting there listening to the older Hall of Famers sharing their old stories, I didn’t want to tell my story. Their stories were so interesting, I was like wow. What I learned about that, everyone that was being honored felt as though their time was the best time of all. So I left that alone but I was wowed about it. It was nice for kids and for my kids to see it. A lot of the boys that I sent to A&M  when they see my induction  in the Hall of Fame they come back and tell me that they didn’t know that I was inducted into the Hall. To be honest I forget, I don’t tell my players to check me out in the Hall. However, it’s a good feeling when they do come back excited and saying that they saw me in the Hall. You know it is a good feeling to be recognized.      

When you completed your collegiate football career  at FAMU did you pursue a professional football career?

Not really, you know it’s funny because  all of us growing up  thought about the NFL and it was if not the NFL then it’s nothing. The funny thing about it is that I  never did pursue an NFL career; for me it was like if it comes it comes and if it doesn’t then it doesn’t . Because back then they were not really drafting too many players from small football programs. Even though the draft was twelve rounds back then. Not until my last game of the year that I had a football scout to approach me about playing professional football. He said that he has a scouting project going on for the USFL which had me listed as one of the top Safety prospect coming out of college. He said  they have every senior categorized by their position and my name was placed on the scouting board. The agent said that I had a pretty  good ranking for coming out that year and it sort of surprise me. He told me that I could possibly go from a 10th round to a free agent. I was surprise because my planes were on other things. Before that got to me, my mind was on graduation. I had a job waiting for me In Physical Education. So I’m thinking about working and saying to myself, do you think that I want to go and bang my head up for someone that is not the NFL.  Then all of a sudden the USFL came up. I was chosen for the Tampa team. The only thing bad about that, it took me out of school before the school year ended. So I had to put my graduation on hold. I had the opportunity to make some money so me and six other guys talked about going. There were three other guys that were selected to go into the USFL however they declined. So I  went and later on I was released. I said man, I knew I should not have wasted  my time. I played in the preseason and four games into the season. Then they started getting former NFL players to help build their league and that’s when they started putting us out of the league. So I  went back to school and finished up. So here comes this agent guy again and he’s trying to get me to go to the Buffalo Bills and the Baltimore Colts but it was as a free agent. But the salary wasn’t real good you know coming out of a small school. By that time I had a lot of other things going on. There were some good that came out of it. The last time that the agent and I spoke he said that I  was   ranked a high 4.6 on a scale a of 5. I said to him how come I didn’t know this. So I said why didn’t my college coach tell me about this. So there were a lot of players that didn’t get the opportunity because it was kept away from them. I am looking at this scout and saying, if I am rated like this why I didn’t know. But that’s another story.

What was your first high school coaching job?

Miami Edison in 1985. Prior to coaching at Edison, I went back to FAMU to watch the Spring Football Game and I ran into Coach Highsmith who was the Head Football Coach at Edison. He saw me and ask me what I was doing and I told him I just graduated and I will be teaching in elementary. I told him that I was back down in Miami. He asked me about coaching and I said ahhh and hesitated. He said you don’t have to answer me at this time but when you get back to Miami  give me a call and let me know then. That’s how I got on with Edison. So he hired me and for the first two weeks I was coaching receivers and then he moved me over to coaching the defensive backs.

What was it like to win your first high school football championship?

It was great, it was a lot of hard work involved in  having the kids buy into what you are teaching and seeing  the coaches put in the hard work. I didn’t realize how hard it is to win a championship, it’s not easy. It doesn’t matter how good or great that you think your team might be. But it’s a lot of luck in winning a championship and that ball has to bounce your way .

What school was your first championship?

My first championship was at Northwestern Senior High School in 1995 as a Defensive Coordinator. However, in 1998 I won my first championship as a Head Coach at North western Senior High School.

What is your coaching style and who has played a role in your successful development?

My coaching style is more of a players coach. I like to coach kids so that they can develop their intelligence; I like to listen to them as well and not to be barking down their throat. I want them to have a mental aspect of the game where they can execute my philosophy. I would take some of that from my father and my college football Coach Rudy Hubert. Coach Hubert worked on your mind pretty good. I would say that I am a players Coach. My office door is always open for answering questions or suggestions that a player may have. However, I want to make sure that they are happy and their home environment is okay. All of that stuff has to be good before they can come and do the hard work that is required of them.

How many football championships have you won and what schools did you win them with?

As a Head Coach, I have won 3 championship, 2 with North Western , 1 with Killian and over all as an assistant I won 1 so a total of 4.

What Coach won the most Football Championships in in Miami -Dade County?

Nick Cotes from Coral Gables High School has 6 championships, Coach Fraizer, Coach Harris and Coach Smith has 4 championships. So I am tied with those three Coaches.

How did you become the head football coach at Northwestern Sr High School?

Well, it’s a bitter sweet type of situation. They hired me as they fired the coach who I was the defensive coordinator for , so it was kind of  a bitter sweet situation. He did a good job . He was a disciplinarian coach. They shafted him, they did him wrong. I almost didn’t take the coaching job but they pretty much gave me the position. People don’t know that I was actually appointed the the Head  Coach position for Miami Edison. However, the two Principles got together to discuss my future. Northwestern Principle told Miami Edison Principle that he was going to keep me on at Northwestern and hire me as the head football coach. So they came to an agreement and that’s how I became the head coach for The West.

How did this affect your relationship with the out going coach?

There was some talk behind the scenes but we both knew what took place. He and I talked and things were smooth between us. As a matter of fact,  about a year ago we  had a twenty year reunion. We were celebrating his 1995 Championship season.

What made Northwestern football program so dominate?

They have a long winning tradition and they have a hunger for the game. They saw an avenue that would allow them away out of their harsh environment. Also there were a lot of competition in the surrounding neighborhood Pop Warner Football Programs.  There is a pool of talent in the area and a lot of those kids choose the West as there choice. However, now the tide is turning and Booker T is now a Power House Football Program. 

How many years did you coach  at Northwestern?

I coached for 19 years at The West. I had two stints where I left and coached for Killian Senior High School and then I returned back to North Western.

What was the reason for leaving Northwestern football program?

It was kind of personal, It was a change in leadership and they wanted me to do some  things that I didn’t agree with so we didn’t see eye to eye. So I decided to leave without rocking the boat.

How long did you stay out of coaching and what was it like not to be coaching?

I stayed out of coaching for one year.

When did you return back to coaching and what was the name of the school?

I returned back a year later around 2012 and I went to Coral Reef. They had an opening. I wanted get back into coaching so I returned back in coaching.

Coach, what is the difference in talent when compared with Northwestern athletes to  Coral Reef not forgetting that Coral Reef is a magnet school?

To be honest it’s a big difference in the size of the athletes. For an example, the kids that were playing line backer would be playing defensive back at Northwestern. The ability is not that big of a difference. The toughness not to big of a difference, it was just a size factor.

Coach Rolle, the word is out that you will be the new 2015 Head Football Coach at South Ridge Sr High School. How do you feel about your new school?

I am very excited, there is a lot of good talent in this community. A good things is that a lot of the talent that has been playing out of there district will be returning back to their home school which is South Ridge. In my playing days South Ridge had a great football program. With the talent returning we have a good chance to have a great football program. 

What was it like addressing your new players and how did they respond to you?

The comforting part was that they knew of me so that made it easier, They knew of my football history. What surprised them was that I knew of their football history at South Ridge so they grasp what I was expressing to them as a team and my expectations. So by them knowing or heard of me and me reflecting on their past football success created a smooth transition.

What are your expectations for your 2015 football season?

Just like every other Coach, to go all the way and win it all. We know that’s everyones goal and that remains to be seen. But more importantly to develop these young men to get were they need to be not where they want to be. So they can better their future through football. Learn relations, discipline, hard work and to get what you have to do to be successful in life. That’s the main objective when in the position of a coach. If  you are in it to only win championships and x’s and o’ s you are in it for the wrong reason. All that is good but at a young coach I had to learn that and it help me in my own life in terms of organizing, sacrificing and working hard; it help me in my everyday life at home. I have to have a game plan as running a house hold; your bills and different things that comes into the house hold as a father you have to have a plan A and A plan B, three strikes your out. You have to be accountable for your actions.

Being a head football coach How do you manage your marriage and your family time?

I have learned over the years that it has to be done within your work hours. If I have an eight hour day at work plus 2, it can’t be plus 4. So I have to stick with the schedule. I don’t do anything extra and I do not practice on the weekends. I know that a lot of other coaches do practice on Saturday but I have learned over the years that the weekend is for family time. Also, after 6pm was family time. You know every now and then you would get a break. Your wife would tell you to go ahead with some of your coaches because you were  not thinking of us any how. But I still manage to put in the the family time. That was something that I learned as an assistant coach while working with three veteran coaches and I took out the good from each one of them  and I throw out the bad. To add to providing quality family time, coaching can be a problem if you are not careful. I have been fortunate to have great assistant football coaches. You don’t have to worry about it as much. You designate your coaches to do certain task and you keep it moving. It is also good to have some up and coming young expiring  coaches that are eager to learn and that will go the extra mile as I did  when I was in my early stages of coaching and it works out.

What was it like coaching your son?

I thought that it was going to be everything in the world but if I could do it again, I wouldn’t.  You know it was his desire to play for his dad. But coaching your son does not work for everyone. It was nice, I was able to have a lot of conversation with him to and from school. On the field stand point, it was not good for me. I found myself watching him oppose to watching my team. Every time the ball snapped I would be watching him and forgetting what’s taking place {HA, HA} Coach Rolle laughs. So then I would be calling him out. So as we would be driving home he would say dad , every other play you are calling me out. It was as though I was not watching anyone else and it affected him because he knew that I was watching him. All in all, it was great, which is  every fathers dream to coach their son; don’t let anyone tell you differently but it’s not always good.

How much longer would  you like to coach?

I would like to coach a few more years and win another championship.

Who were some of  your coaching assistants that have become Head High School Football Coaches?

Oh man where can I start, Tim Harris known as Ike Harris went to Booker T. Washington and currently at University of Miami, Roland Smith coaches at Miami Central, Max Edwards North Western, Frank Cox Coral Reef, but there are a host of assistant coaches that are from the same tree. Those guys didn’t want only to be assistant coaches they wanted to become head football coaches and they were not afraid to step out their pretty much  like what I  did and that’s a good thing.

Who are some of the players that you have coached and how many of those football players are in the NFL or played in the NFL?

I would need a list but real quick, Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota Vikings, Amari Cooper out of University of Alabama, Davonta David Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Antonio Bryant, Burn Carey Dallas Cowboys,Tommie Streeter, Shawn Spence Pittsburgh Steelers, Tory Cox and the list goes on and on just to name few of my past players. The two most recent players to go into this years NFL draft will be Bizmore and Amari Cooper.

Do you maintain a relationship with your formal players?

Yeah, they will hit me up. Some of them gave me a call when they heard that I would be the new Head Football Coach for South Ridge Senior High School. I ran into two of my formal players while out watching the U of M Football Scrimmage. Also Andre Johnson came over and spoke with me. He was talking about when we played against him in high school and we double covered him. He still talks about it because he was not able to catch a pass. I also see Vernon Carey every year he invites me to play in his charity golf tournament  that he has every year in April. As a matter of fact it’s coming up pretty son.

But we keep in contact. I can say that when I had face book that was the most common way to keep in contact with them as well as they staying in contact with me. That’s about the only good thing about Facebook that I can see {ha ha} he laughs. 

Who was your role model?

My DAD, because he did it all from what I’ve seen. I had many outside role models but I had only one place to look, it would be my father. I think that I received one whipping in my whole life from my father. After that one, I don’t think that I did anything else for him to whip me {he laughs}. You know, just watching him, he was a funny guy, always laughing. I have never really seen him mad. My dad accomplished a lot of things. His legacy is that he helped a lot of people from the community. I joke quit often that I have more  brothers, sisters and cousins then anyone. That stems from my parents having an open door policy to the community and they all were treated like family. 

    

When it’s all said and done, how would you like to be remembered?

I would like to be remembered as a hard working person that made it look easy. Also one who cared about his players and coaching staff. I want to leave behind that I had the compassion to help develop young men into becoming great  fathers, brothers, sons and great leaders in their communities. At the end of the day, Coach Rolle was a great mentor as a father, coach, brother, son, teacher and a friend. Just remembered as a coach that did it right.

Coach, we have shared a wonderful childhood together and I must say that I and we as a community are very proud of you. I wish you continual  success as you continue your football journey. May God continue to bless you.

Worrell Troup79

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