Dave Rochlitz, center, was honored at the Sept. 24 Macomb Lutheran North varsity soccer game. He retired in August after 40 years in Lutheran education and is the former varsity soccer coach.

Dave Rochlitz, center, was honored at the Sept. 24 Macomb Lutheran North varsity soccer game. He retired in August after 40 years in Lutheran education and is the former varsity soccer coach.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Retired counselor honored at Macomb Lutheran North soccer game

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published October 11, 2021


MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Dave Rochlitz spent 17 years roaming the sidelines at soccer games as Macomb Lutheran North’s head coach.

It was only fitting that the school honored Rochlitz Sept. 24 for his time in Lutheran education at the halftime of the boys soccer game.

For 40 years, Rochlitz was involved in Lutheran education and ministry.

Rochlitz, of Fraser, retired in late August as the school’s guidance director, a position he served in for 28 years.

The 66-year-old Rochlitz hasn’t coached in a decade but said it was good to see some former players and students.

At halftime, he was joined on the track with former soccer players and assistant coaches.

As soccer coach, Rochlitz guided the team to nine Metro Conference championships, nine district championships, three regional championships and one state runner-up finish in the MHSAA Class B finals in 1995.

Ron Patti was a student at North from 1994-1998 and on Rochlitz’s varsity team for three years.

“He was a great guy, was tough on you, but down to earth,” he said. “He took us to the state finals when I was a sophomore, which was the highlight of my experience with him.”

Dan Wolka was sporting a soccer shirt that said, “Balls in the net,” one of Rochlitz’s catchphrases. Wolka was at North the same time as Patti.

“He was more old school than what you have now as a coach,” he said. “He was pretty fair and set us up to do our thing without getting overly rigid.”

Rochlitz said that, regardless of his team’s talent level, they always played hard.

“The great thing at Lutheran North was we were always competitive, no matter what,” he said.

Lutheran North teacher Steve Slagel worked with Rochlitz for 22 years.

“I remember almost every day, him walking down the hallway, carrying his cup of coffee and whistling,” Slagel said. “It was impressive how he handled the influx of kids changing their schedules. Each semester, the line would be out the door, and he was always graceful and understanding.”

Slagel pointed out that Rochlitz was the voice of Lutheran North graduation, who for over 20 years would read the names of graduating seniors as they walked across the stage at the ceremony.

Born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago, Rochlitz graduated from Mankato State University in Minnesota. He earned a master’s degree in counseling from Concordia University Chicago. He taught at Lutheran South High School in Chicago for six years and then moved to Michigan, working at Lutheran East High School in Harper Woods for six years as a counselor, teacher and coach.

“I struggled in high school as a student, and when I got a job in Minneapolis as a counselor at a group home, I decided to do it at the high school level,” Rochlitz said in response to what attracted him to the counseling profession.

At Lutheran North, he taught New Testament, Christian doctrine and a few physical education classes.

“The Lutheran North community was very kind to me,” Rochlitz said. “Working in Lutheran schools was such a blessing, not just sharing faith with students, but working with staff and faculty who are Christian people and share Christian values.”  

Rochlitz explained that, in metro Detroit schools, guidance directors operated more as registrars, handling items like the master schedule and college applications.

“It was more academic counseling, and when students have social or individual struggles, you talk to students and parents and try to refer them to professional counselors who do that full-time,” he said.

Simply put, Rochlitz said working with students and people provided him the most enjoyment as a professional.

Rochlitz and his wife, Joy, a 1976 Lutheran North graduate, have three kids and two grandchildren.