Rusty Rogotzke and David Rottinghaus step up to lead Comets girls basketball team
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — Not too long ago, Charles City had a girls basketball head coach.
Then it had none.
Now it has two. And both have ties to the school and community stretching back to the beginning of the current millenia and beyond.
“We didn’t want to see it fade away,” said David Rottinghaus, who agreed to take over the program with Rusty Rogotzke as the Comets’ co-head coaches just weeks ahead of the first official week of practice, which began Monday.
“We know many of the girls on the team, and they needed someone to step up,” Rogotzke said.
Incidentally, the Comets’ last GBB head coach — longtime varsity baseball coach Tyler Downing — was also an 11th-hour replacement. When Downing announced he was stepping down from GBB coaching duties near the end of last school year, a candidate emerged over the summer to fill the vacancy.
But an abrupt residency relocation forced the would-be coach to resign from the position.
So that prompted the serendipitous origins of the team’s budding “R & R” era.
How history pans out from this point forward remains to be seen. But the co-coaches have been around during the school’s more celebrated hoops history.
Rogotzke, a teacher at the school, has been coaching in the school system since 2001 in a variety of sports, including football.
Rottinghaus, a 2000 Charles City graduate, was a star swing player (guard/forward) for the Comets when they were one of the top teams in the state.
When former Charles City boys basketball coach and activities director Todd Forsyth was asked about his favorite memory during his tenure at the school, he mentions a home game against Forest City when the old high school gym was bursting at the seams before Rottinghaus set it on fire.
“They were the No. 2 team in the state. We were the No. 3 team,” Forsyth told the Charles City Press. “There were four future Division I players in that game. [Comets Rottinghaus and future Iowa star and Hawkeye all-time rebounder Greg Brunner were two of them] The place was packed. (Former Iowa State head coach) Larry Eustachy was in attendance.
“David Rottinghaus scored 36 points in the first half alone as we jumped out to a big lead and eventually won by 6 or 7.”
Rottinghaus went on to play NCAA Division 1 basketball for the University of Wyoming. During his junior and senior years as a Cowboy, Rottinghaus played in 59 games and started in 27 while averaging just under 5 points a game.
Rottinghaus stayed in Wyoming after his playing days were over and coached basketball at Casper College and Sheridan College.
He has since moved back to Charles City, and is the Executive Vice President at Zip’s AW Direct.
The co-coaches are taking over a team that didn’t win a game last season.
“We need to establish a youth program to start teaching girls the basics of basketball at a younger age,” Rottinghaus said.
“We have the athletes,” Rogotzke said of Charles City’s female student-athletes, who traditionally do well in softball, volleyball, cross country, track and field, and … as of late … wrestling. “It’s a matter of getting the best out of them for basketball.”