Case Western Reserve University wrestling coach Bob Del Rosa has much to be thankful for this holiday season—his wife, two sons and two grandchildren—and for his life.
Last month, Del Rosa, 70, spent 5 ½ hours on the operating table as doctors performed triple bypass surgery on him at Lake West Hospital. Surgery became necessary after Del Rosa felt a burning sensation in his chest following a racquetball game he played the first week of November. He has been playing racquetball weekly for more than 30 years. He finished the match, but the next day while raking leaves at home, Del Rosa felt unusually tired.
"I told my wife I felt tired and worn out," said Del Rosa, who began his coaching career at the Case Institute of Technology in 1962. "She told me I should go see my doctor, which I did the next day. The rest is history."
After a catheter examination, Del Rosa's doctor informed him that he had three blocked arteries and that surgery was the only way to correct the problem.
"I told him, 'let's get it done,'" Del Rosa said.
Del Rosa, who is thankful there were signs of heart disease rather than an actual attack, has been given a clean bill of health by his cardiologist and will coach the first wrestling match of his 45th season at the Citrus Duals in Florida December 29-30. The Spartans have already wrestled in four tournaments and one dual meet this season but without their legendary coach.
Heart disease runs in the Del Rosa family, and two of his brothers weren't as lucky. His older brother Richard died of a heart attack at age 49 and another one Gus had bypass surgery at 47, so he was feeling lucky at age 70.
"Everything happened so fast," said Del Rosa, a Mentor native and 1955 graduate of John Adams High School. "If I knew I was going to get operated on in two weeks and had to sit around at home and think about it, I think I would have been a little more anxious. Thankfully, there was none of that. There was no time to think.
"Thanksgiving was a big day for me. I really had something to be thankful for," Del Rosa added. "I enjoy everything and everybody a little bit more these days."
"The wrestling team visited Del Rosa for the first time since the beginning of November earlier this month when he invited them to dinner at his home in Mentor. The coach joked that they were looking for proof of his absence.
"We are so happy to have him back," said senior wrestler Russ Tischer. "Things weren't normal without him here. The first thing we wanted to see was his scar, and that thing is big!"
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