Thanks to the efforts of assistants Gary Dixon and Bob Barthold, Wheeler head girls tennis coach Mike Rosta feels more like a public relations representative.
"I kind of feel bad sometimes, because they seem to do a lot of the coaching," Rosta said. "They are two of the most genuinely giving men I know. I don't know what we would do without them."
Dixon and Barthold have more than 60 years of combined coaching experience. Dixon, who's been coaching since 1974, had head coaching stints at Griffith and Wheeler, where he spent three seasons. Bob Barthold was the head tennis coach at Valparaiso for 19 years, and several of those seasons Dixon was an assistant.
Rosta coached against Barthold a few seasons when Valparaiso and Wheeler faced off, mainly in the sectional.
Dixon worked under Rosta at Andrean, but he also taught Rosta the game when the Bearcats coach was 8 years old.
"As I got older," Rosta said. "We started to play a lot of tennis together, and I know him very well.
Dixon was reunited with Rosta four years ago, and Barthold joined them a year later.
Even as both age, the love for the game continues to grow.
"I love coaching tennis, and I enjoy working with kids," Dixon said.
"I feel like I have more energy now then when I was at Valpo," said Barthold, who retired from Valpo in 2008. "I come to practice ready to go."
Dixon has helped work with most of the 17 freshmen who came to the Bearcats (7-8) this season, while Barthold emphasizes life lessons and is in charge of the "Word of the Day."
The duo also helped soften Rosta's prior emotional ways.
"If you're calm with the players, they will be calm," Dixon said.
"I'm a lot more calm now then when I was a head coach," Barthold added. "I think it makes you a better coach."
Both took a reasoned approach to Wheeler's issues with its singles lineup. Olivia Ingram (No. 1) was lost early in the season to a lower disc issue in her back; Shelby Loftus (No. 2) has missed time with a rotator cuff inflammation in her shoulder; and Jackie Ruchti (No. 3) was finally lost fo the season with a still undiagnosed shoulder issue.
"I looked at it initially as, 'Oh my God, another injury,'" Rosta said. "Both of them told me they this was probably going to be a rebuilding year, so now we have a chance to give some of the younger players an opportunity. They put things in perspective.
"It's an unbelievable luxury to have them here."