Rowan's Acosta is role model

By MICHAEL RADANO, Courier-Post Staff

Bobby Acosta knew he wanted coaching as part of his future.

He just didn't expect it to happen so soon and so close to home.

"At the end of my senior year, I told (Rowan University football coach K.C. Keeler) that I wanted to coach," Acosta said. "He told me he would make a spot for me on his staff. I was shocked. I thought, 'Wow, I never thought I'd be coaching at Rowan."

"I saw him grow from a boy to man at this place," Keeler said. "It's neat to see a guy who has taken charge of his life in so many different ways.

'"He was successful on the field for us, but more importantly, he's been successful off it."

Coaching is a small part of what Acosta wants.

The student-assistant coach has worked with defensive backs at Rowan since he finished his eligibility in 1999, the 25-year-old Acosta is currently student-teaching at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Washington Township. He also is volunteering at the Together Shelter in Glassboro, which works with runaways and children with substance abuse problems.

Acosta wants to be the positive male role model he never had.

Acosta's father passed away when he was young, and his mother worked two jobs in West New York. And, he feels he was pushed through Memorial High School because he was an athlete.

As a result, he still had some growing up to do once he reached South Jersey, and he had to do it on his own.

"My first two years at Rowan, I was still in basic skills," said Acosta, now 25. "But that gave me time to mature and it was actually the best thing for me. After my first two years, I was ready to work. Since then, that's all I've done and all I've wanted to do."

"He has a great approach with the kids," Thomas Jefferson physical education teacher Kevin Hanrahan said. "The fact that he is older than most student-teachers we get makes a big difference.

"A lot of the (student-teachers) we get want to teach and coach at the high school level. They really don't want to work at the grammar school level. That shows in their approach."

Acosta said he's had several offers that would include coaching at the high school level next year but the big thing is to work with the kids who need him most.

"If I'm at a grammar school, I'll still be able to get to Rowan in time for practice," Acosta said. "Football is a big part of what I want to do. But first and foremost will be teaching.

"To be honest, I see myself working in a city school system, but areas like (Washington Township) see me as a minority so I'm attractive to them also. There are minority students here. The principal told me the other day that schools like this also need positive role models who are minorities.

"I want to be a positive influence on kids' lives. ... I look at the kids here and at the shelter as my own."

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Date Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2002 (All day)
Source URL: Courier-Post