ROAST AND TOAST FOR ATHLETIC
DIRECTOR ERNIE RIGHETTI’S RETIREMENT
A Roast and Toast retirement celebration feting retiring Roeper Athletic Director, Ernie Righetti and his 33 years at the school as Athletic Director teacher, coach, mentor and friend was held Friday, April 17th in the Community Center athletic facility. It was fitting that the event was there because it was due in large part to Ernie’s persistent encouragement and leadership that his dream of building Roeper’s excellent athletic facility came to fruition.
Under Ernie’s watch, Roeper won its first State Championship in its history. The State Championship twenty member soccer team can also be proud of its 3.91 team GPA. That score is the highest in the sport on record in the state of Michigan.
Master of Ceremonies for the evening was veteran Detroit journalist and former press secretary to Dennis Archer, Cliff Russell, who graduated from Roeper in 1969.
After playing football, basketball and track at Wayne Memorial high school, Ernie’s career as a coach began while he attended Olivet College, coaching track at a local high school. Before starting his 33 year career as Roeper’s Athletic Director in 1982, Ernie coached track at Wayne High School, Wayne State University and John Glenn High School. Ernie then served as Track and Basketball coach at Roeper, eventually turning to coaching basketball exclusively – both girls’ and boys’ teams, sometimes at the same time.
The love and respect Ernie holds in the hearts of the more than 300 people who roasted him, toasted him, laughed with him and shed a tear or two with him was evident throughout the evening. The character of this great man came through as one who helped and took care of the people in his sphere when they needed it. He was also a champion for his athletes when they needed one. Ernie was respected among his colleagues in the MIAC league as a fair and honorable coach who instilled sportsmanship in his players.
Among the roasters were the "boys" he coached at Wayne Memorial High School (Tim Quaintance and Bryan Watson); a referee who officiates at Roeper games (Joe Thilman); Roeper parents (Zack Savas and Ron Robinson); alums who played for him (Sondra Morris ‘02, Kristen Morris ‘04, Amber Joiner-Hill ‘06, Julie Pudar ‘13, Alyssa Flynn ‘14, Ben Simonton ‘00 and Rebecca Saunders ‘95); current student Sophia Savas ‘15; current and past members of Roeper’s staff and faculty (Tonia O'Rourke, Roberta Jones, Emery Pence, and Colleen Potocki); a colleague in the MIAC league (Mark Kraatz, coach and Athletic Director at Inter-City Baptist High School) and fellow Roeper coaches (Ed Sack, Jay Ewing and Laddie Andahazy ‘01).
At the end of the evening, Roeper Head of School, David Feldman announced that the Roeper Endowment for Athletics would be renamed The Ernie Righetti Endowment for Athletics to honor the importance of his many years of service to the school.
In the course of his career at Roeper, Ernie was recognized many times for his outstanding ability as a coach:
- 13 Time MIAC Coach of the Year
- BCAM (Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan) '08
- Regional Coach of the Year: ‘94, ‘96, ‘98, ‘99, ‘00, ‘04, ‘05
- Associated Press Coach of the Year ‘08
- Over 785 Varsity Career Victories
Also in attendance at the celebration were Ernie’s wife Roxanne, son Eric ’96 and daughter Lesley ’05, who both played for their dad at Roeper, and Ernie’s parents.