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George Ferguson Column: Box Elder will miss more than just a coach

From The Fringe...


Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

Joel Rosette has had a ton of success as the Box Elder girls basketball coach, including leading the Bears to two straight Class C state championships. Now, Rosette is leaving Box Elder, and while he'll sorely be missed, what he's accomplished, on and off the court, will never be forgotten.

Change is inevitable. It happens, and life must go on.

Like life, change comes to sports too.

So, when longtime Box Elder girls basketball coach Joel Rosette announced last week that he, his wife and daughters Joelnell and Kyla were leaving Box Elder to move to Spokane, Washington, it's inevitable that, change is coming to the highly-successful Box Elder program.

Under Rosette, the Bears have won two straight Class C state championships. They have played for the state title four times, and have won a ton of District 9C and Northern C games in his storied tenure at the helm.

But, just like in life, in basketball, there's more than meets the eye.

Rosette hasn't just won hundreds of basketball games and a lot of trophies and medals in his time at Box Elder, no, he's done more than that. He's affected change, and affected lives, and as a coach, teacher and mentor to young people, he's done exactly what we all hope someone in Joel's position would do.

Yes, Rosette has won a lot, and yes, he's mentored a lot of great players over the years, most recently his daughter Joelnell, and Lilly Gopher, among so many others. He's helped them become great basketball players, and he's created a winning culture in Box Elder, one that has stood the test of time in recent years.

But, a deeper look into the career of Joel Rosette will show you, he's created a lot more than winning on the basketball floor.

I've had a glimpse of Joel's program since the beginning, and I certainly see a lot more than winning. I see a man who has wanted to create a positive environment for his players, his student-athletes and his home town. Yes, there's so many things Joel has done for Box Elder, and for all of his players that don't end up in the box score every night in the winter time. There's so many things he has done to help young people grow, mature and flourish, and those things don't end up on trophies or in record books.

But, what Joel has done for the Box Elder girls basketball program, what he's done for his school, for the Box Elder and Rocky Boy communities, and what he's done for the hundreds of players he's coached over the years, those things should be applauded and praised, even if they aren't on a trophy in the trophy case.

No, Joel Rosette hasn't just won basketball games over the years, no, he hasn't just won state championships, and he hasn't just made girls into great players, he's done a hell of a lot more than that. He's changed lives, he's made lives better, he's helped young people mature into adults and so much more. In other words, Joel Rosette has done what all of us coaches hope we do, HE'S MADE A DIFFERENCE. And that's going to be missed in Box Elder as much as the wins and trophies might be.

But, as the Rosette's move on from Box Elder, he's still making a difference. He's going to make a difference in the lives of his daughters.

"Box Elder has always been our home, and we love it there," Rosette said. "We preach to our children and try to lead by example to continuously grow. Leading in the community and educational realm, we'd like for them to step out of their comfort zones and embrace the change with us.

"I think sometimes when you grow up in small towns you want to see what else is out there, too. It was a family decision. We were all at that point where we wanted to experience life outside of Montana, away from the places we love. We thought if we did it together all our kids will know they're capable of doing whatever they set their minds to do."

Of course, the kind of change Rosette affected in Box Elder is not lost on Superintendent Jeremy MacDonald, who has affected plenty of positive change in his community in his time there, and will again as he will re-enter the coaching realm again this winter, taking the boys job back after LaVon Meyers decided to move on.

"It's definitely a tremendous loss for our girls' basketball program, our school and our community," MacDonald said. "Joel did a lot of great things here. He's a man with a lot of integrity. He was able to develop a successful program, but he also did a great job of preparing our student-athletes for life."

Indeed, literally side-by-side, MacDonald and Rosette have been doing that for years in Box Elder, and the community has been luck to have two such great coaches, mentors and two men of integrity.

For years now, Rosette and MacDonald have been doing positive and inspiring work in Box Elder, on and off the basketball court. And while I'm excited and happy for my good friend Jeremy, that he's going to once again be stalking the District 9C sidelines, I'm sad to see another one go. I will miss talking basketball with Joel. I'll miss watching him coach, and I'll miss our interviews. And I now, Box Elder will miss him even more.

But, I can say this about Joel Rosette, with absolute conviction. Joel may be leaving Box Elder, he may not be coaching basketball there anymore. But, the change he's affected, the differences he's made in so many lives, the positive influence he's had on the team, the school and the community, those things are ever-lasting. Those things will still be here.

So thank you Joel. Thank you for being the man you are. We're all going to miss you, and best of luck to you and your family on your bright future ahead.


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