A major change is usually included with a honeymoon period. That is no different for a new high school football coach.
“Being 0-0, you are the most popular guy until you go 0-1,” newly minted William Chrisman head football coach Michael Rose-Ivey said.
William Chrisman High School is located in Independence, Missouri, a short 20-minute drive away from the hub of Kansas City. The Bears have not exactly been a powerhouse in recent years. They finished 3-7 last year, 2-9 the year prior and 3-7 in 2019.
The challenge of taking over a slumping program did not deter Rose-Ivey.
Rose-Ivey has a deep football connection to the state of Missouri. He was a star at the Rockhurst High School and went on to have a standout career at the University of Nebraska. Now he is tasked with leading the charge at William Chrisman.
It was an unconventional route toward this opportunity for Rose-Ivey. His lifelong dream was not necessarily to become a high school coach. He contemplated the idea of this job after training some high school athletes on the side.
“I always knew I wanted to stay around football, but I did not know how that would look at this point in my life,” Rose-Ivey said. “It has been something I have been able to enjoy and it’s been a good experience.”
Rose-Ivey’s football career at Rockhurst was foundational. It is where he played under Tony Severino, a living legend in Rockhurst. Severino had won seven state championships and had the third most wins in the state’s high school football history. He was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2019.
Severino was not a Sean McVay type of coach. He was no wizard with the Xs and Os; rather he had a special way with people and players. Rose-Ivey thought of him as a leader of men.
“He helped guys become leaders, be relied upon, and be counted on,” Rose-Ivey said. “He did that by keeping it simple for the players.”
Severino had a big impact on Rose-Ivey. He planned on some of his style being molded from that image.
“I definitely learned a lot from him and how he went about running the program at Rockhurst,” Rose-Ivey added.
Rose-Ivey had a very successful high school career under Severino. He recorded over 100 tackles his senior year and was named an All-Metro selection by the Kansas City Star.
After showcasing his talents in the Kansas City suburbs, Rose-Ivey attracted recruiting attention from major football powerhouses. He was rated as a top 150 overall player in the 2012 recruiting class per 247 Sports and he received scholarship offers from top schools such as USC, Ohio State, and Nebraska among others.
The Cornhuskers were hot off a few Big 12 title game appearances and had a well-renowned defensive-minded coach in Bo Pelini. Rose-Ivey said that those were some of the major factors in his decision to choose the Huskers.
“The projection of Nebraska, it being relatively close and getting to play for Bo Pelini was a big allure for me,” Rose-Ivey said.
That decision turned out to be a good one.
Rose-Ivey was a multi-year starter at linebacker for Nebraska. His first year, he broke the freshman tackle record with 66. He topped that number with 70 tackles in his senior season in 2016.
His time with the Huskers had some controversy, as he was one of the first players to kneel during the national anthem at Nebraska. This was in response to police brutality and a movement former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick started.
Rose-Ivey encountered numerous racist comments and death threats because of his protest. That all withstanding he still found kneeling to be one of the most important things he did while he was with the Huskers.
These actions were noticed by people in Rose-Ivey’s life outside of football like Kim Schellpeper, the Associate Director of Academic Programs. Schellpeper is a person who helps most younger Nebraska athletes adjust off the field and she assists with the classroom side for student-athletes.
She was struck by what Rose-Ivey was standing for and his activism at Nebraska.
“The experience that I remember the most had nothing to do with football, but more to do with social activism and consciousness,” Schellpeper said. “He knew there would be backlash, especially in a conservative state like Nebraska, but he chose to stand up for what he believed in and he eloquently explained why he chose to kneel.”
This kind of leadership and strength in his convictions would serve Rose-Ivey later.
After his career at Nebraska, Rose-Ivey said he always knew he wanted to stay around football. He just did not know what that would look like if he was not playing. He was not sure he wanted to be a high school coach right away.
Rose-Ivey’s first dip into working with athletes would be as an instructor at Kansas City Athlete Training. He worked with individual athletes for a few years and trained some Power 5 players like Jaylin Noel, Arland Bruce and Quinton Conley.
That work started to get him some additional exposure and some coaches were taking notice.
“I heard of Coach Rose-Ivey through the training he was doing with local athletes in the KC area on social media,” former Lincoln High football coach William Lowe said “I knew some people that had worked with him and I knew he would develop into a great young coach and he was what we needed at the time at Lincoln Prep.”
Lowe, who is now the head coach at Rancho Christian High School, said Rose-Ivey was a detailed coach and had an intense passion for the game. He felt so strongly about him that he offered him the defensive coordinator position at Lincoln Prep.
That decision would pay immediate dividends and allowed Rose-Ivey to showcase his coaching talent. Lowe thought he made an immediate impact on their defense as a whole.
In Rose-Ivey’s first year on the job, Lincoln Prep had an undefeated regular season for the first time in school history and finished 11-1.
“He developed our players and brought instant credibility,” Lowe said. “We had four defensive players receive D1 offers after that season.”
After his success as a coordinator, Rose-Ivey drew even more interest, but this time to lead a program.
Fit was extremely important to Rose-Ivey’s decision. He wanted an athletic director and a community to back him at his eventual destination.
“One of the biggest things I learned from Lincoln Prep is it takes the right amount of support with the coaching staff, parents and players believing in you but it also takes an administration that gives you opportunities to keep achieving more,” Rose Ivey added.
That opportunity eventually presented itself with William Chrisman and Rose-Ivey jumped at the chance to coach there after he got to know the program.
This is the first year as a head coach for Rose-Ivey but he knows there is more to being a coach than just directing players on the field.
Before a single football has been snapped, he is already making an impact.
In his first few days on the job as the new head football coach Rose-Ivey was given over seven pages worth of Ds and Fs of returning players. Those players would not be allowed to practice or play without raising those grades.
This was the job description for what Schellpeper did for Rose-Ivey and many Husker athletes at Nebraska. She said she knows how important it is to build trust and hold players accountable for their academics.
“People who feel appreciated, respected and cared for will always try to do more than expected,” Schellpeper said. “For whatever expectations that have been set there must also be consequences when those expectations are not met.”
Rose-Ivey can relate to that struggle as he too had to sit out or he too had to sit out at some points in his playing career because of grades. Back at Rockhurst he had to sit out seven games for academic reasons. He also knows the importance of these athletes becoming better students in addition to football players.
“I’ve had my fair share of trying to maintain grades, doing well then slacking off,” Rose-Ivey said. “The biggest thing is what I am here for is to give these guys a perspective of what I’ve been through to hopefully guide them and set them up for future success.”
While Rose-Ivey has had some struggles academically he also had some shining successes. In the fall of 2012, Rose-Ivey was on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll. He followed that up with being named to the 2013 All Academic Big Ten team.
Before the season had even started Rose-Ivey said he lit a fire under his players and laid out the standards the coaching staff has for their players.
“We are really looking at those small details for our guys,” Rose Ivey said. “If we cannot trust you to get to the second hour on time, how are we going to trust you to be a quarterback and read a defense.”
That seven-plus pages has already fallen to two.
“I wouldn’t take a lot of credit for it because honestly you don’t have that big of a progression if your kids aren’t smart,” Rose-Ivey said. “Our kids are smart, they just weren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing.”
A new voice will usually be heard a bit clearer. Rose-Ivey notes the staff still have a ways to go to get that list down to zero.
“It sounds like Rose-Ivey has already built this foundation,” Schellpeper said. “That is pretty special because some coaches never get that piece.”
William Chrisham will open their season on Aug. 28th against the Grandview Bulldogs. That will be Rose-Ivey’s first test on the field to see if he’ll still be the most popular guy in town.