By Alexa Mauzy-Lewis
According to former Navy SEAL Gary Rossi, fitness is everything.
Last year, as the head coach for the Del Norte High girls soccer team, Rossi led the Nighthawks to the CIF San Diego Section Division III finals by keeping his team in top physical condition through a variety of intense core workouts.
Rossi’s training methods stem directly from his experiences in the Navy. He incorporates many of the exercises he learned into practices.
“It’s all about using your body weight,” said Rossi, who went to the Naval Academy from 1975-1979 before serving in the Navy from 1979-1999. “That’s one thing we focused on a lot in training to get qualified as a Navy SEAL. It’s a lot of pushups, sit-ups to build up their core and a variety of different exercises to get stronger.”
For Rossi, being a successful athlete doesn’t just come down to playing a specific sport well.
“One of the focuses at Del Norte is to get the kids to think like an athlete first rather than an individual player of any sport,” he explained.
Star soccer player Kyra Carusa, a junior, has played for Rossi on the varsity team since she was a freshman.
Carusa has endured the physical strain of Rossi’s training and testifies his methods have made her a stronger player.
“The training is tough, but very rewarding,” Carusa said. “We always benefit and have fun. He takes the Navy SEAL values and incorporates them into our training. He is always talking about determination and dedication”
Rossi’s training extends beyond the girls soccer team at Del Norte. He has also coached the boys novice water polo team and fostered Del Norte’s Navy SEAL Invitational Team.
The Navy SEAL Invitational is an athletic competition hosted by the Navy SEALS each year.
It includes a series of Navy SEAL workouts and the team who can finish them the fastest wins. Del Norte placed first last year and second this year.
Rugby player Dan Hardiman is a member of the Navy SEAL Invitational and trains privately with Rossi to this day.
Hardiman is ranked as one of the best rugby players in California. He also can perform the amazing feat of 72 pushups in a minute.
“Gary has gotten me into the best shape of my life,” Hardiman said. “He always tells me mind over matter no matter how tough a workout may be.”
Rossi’s work with Del Norte athletes may be physically strenuous, but has resulted in increased athletic performance across the school’s sports teams, which Rossi hopes to push further.
“One of the goals is to get to the CIF finals for soccer and win it this year,” he said. “We are continuing to get better.”