VIRGINIA BEACH (WAVY) – As is the case with any new venture, “It’s a learning experience,” says Aaron Rouse. Once an All-American safety at Virginia Tech, a four-year NFL player and a United Football League Champion with the Virginia Destroyers, Rouse is now enjoying life as a head coach.
His team, Virginia Beach Middle School.
“It’s about giving back,” said Rouse, who played at First Colonial High School. “It’s been great to see these kids’ eyes light up every day I come to practice.
“To see the looks on their face every day to get better, it’s awesome. You can’t beat it.”
Coming from the hard-nosed, defensive school of Bud Foster at Tech, Rouse knows a little something about discipline. “It’s about teaching proper technique and making sure we’re teaching responsibility and accountability,” he said.
And his players learned real quick; do it right or run. “He yells at you. He tells you to get on the ball and he makes you run for it,” said Jack McGarry, an eighth grade quarterback. “If we mess up…if we don’t do it correctly, we run,” said Davontae Donaway, also in eighth grade.
Even with things a little more tight-knit, the kids say they’ve enjoyed having a former NFL player as their head man. “The first day I saw him, I was happy. I was good. I felt confident,” said Donaway.
For Rouse, it’s about giving back to his community. But he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making coaching a more permanent occupation. “I just want to be able to give back, whether that’s middle school level, college level or maybe one day the pros,” he said.
“I feel like as a player from a community that’s given me so much, I have to give it back. This is the best way I can do that.”