Marquette, Mich. (WJMN) – In 1993, Mark Rosen left the west coast for Marquette as he embarked on his journey to lead the NMU women’s volleyball team to back to back national titles.
Almost three decades later, Rosen is now the winningest head coach in the University of Michigan’s program history.
Through all the success his stop in the U.P. is still something he thinks about often.
In the year 1993, Mark Rosen, was an up and coming volleyball coach looking to climb his way up the coaching ranks. That year, he led Cal-Bakersfield to the national title game. A match that took place at Hedgecock Fieldhouse in Marquette, Michigan.
His opponent, the Northern Michigan Wildcats. A team loaded with talent including four All- Americans, led by legendary head coach Jim Moore.
“You know, we lost to them. It was a good final. The thing we went away from that is, you know, hey we’re bringing everybody back. You know, we’re bringing everybody back and they’re graduating everybody but Jenny Long. We’re going to be okay. We’ll be back in this situation. So, that was kind of the end of 1993. Me thinking hey we’re going to come back and get another. I didn’t even think Northern would be in the picture because they graduated so much. But I knew we would be,” Said Rosen.
Little did Rosen know his fate would change thanks to a phone call he received in mid-summer. It was from Rick Comley, the athletic director and head hockey coach at NMU.
“So, Rick calls me and he says, ‘Hey! I want to talk to you about a job here.’ I say, ‘I don’t know we got a pretty good team here.’ He goes, ‘Well I want you and Lisa to coach together,’ and I go, ‘Okay, you got my attention.”
Rosen who had recently been married to his wife Lisa was campaigning to get her on his coaching staff at Bakersfield. The university was hesitant. The opportunity to coach with Lisa was enough to get Rosen on a plane to Marquette.
Rosen jumped on that plane and a few hours later landed at K.I. Sawyer International Airport. Waiting for him was Comley.
“We had a 20 to 30-minute conversation in the parking lot at the airport. He kind of laid out some things right there. You know first minute and I was impressed. They were building the new volleyball arena which was exciting. They were committed to volleyball and I was just really impressed with Rick. I mean, he was a coach’s A.D,” said Rosen.
Thanks to the strong connection with Comley and a little coaxing from his wife Lisa, Rosen was now all in on the Wildcats.
“I remember calling Lisa and saying: ‘Lisa we need to look at this pretty seriously. This is maybe a really good opportunity,” and she didn’t even hesitate. We originally, kind of looked at Northern as maybe leverage to get her to be the assistant coach at Bakersfield. She said, ‘I don’t want to work somewhere where I have to leverage them. I’m good. I’m worthy. If they want us both….let’s go.’
And so Rosen and his wife packed up and left the California sun for the unpredictable U.P. Weather.
Rosen took over a roster that had a lot of turnover, but also a lot of potential.
“We get to Northern and we got seven freshmen. We got one returning starter. I talked to Jim about every kid. Like, tell me about these kids. What do I have to work with? And he told me, he goes, ‘Mark, I think they’re going to be better than people think.’
TO BE CONTINUED…
Wednesday Local 3 will take a deep dive into the ’94 season with Rosen.
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