Quentin Batalillon

General News 2024

Game Day: Outpouring of love for “Man Rose” during the art unveiling celebration

Before every game of their 2024 season, players on the Northport girls lacrosse team wore red ribbons in their hair. The bows were wide and long, tied around high ponytails and buns, or woven into braids. They were impossible to miss and flew brightly through the air as the girls battled for another victory on the field.

Inspired by their coach Alton Rose (affectionately known as “Man Rose”), the girls wore the ribbons in memory of his courage, determination and fighting spirit; the coach was diagnosed with brain tumors late last year.

“Man Rose is without a doubt the strongest person I have ever met. And I speak for the entire lacrosse team when I say he was our biggest motivation this season,” Northport varsity captain Lauren Baudier said during an event held last Tuesday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Northport Village. The gathering was organized to honor Rose with a painting by Nancy and Bob Hendrick from the Trinity Community Art Center (TCAC). The event was more than an unveiling of works of art, it was an outpouring of love and respect, from Rose’s family and friends, the girls he and his wife Carol Rainson-Rose coach, and some of their biggest fans.

“Over the years, Man Rose came to every practice with a big smile and lots of positive energy, bringing us snacks and playing music and dancing with us to make our team more like a family. This did not change when he started his fight, and that was a great lesson for our entire team, teaching us all to never give up in difficult times,” Baudier continued.

“This season we wore red ribbons in our hair to remind us that we have to be fighters every game, just like Man Rose. To fight and give everything despite the challenges, and not dwell on the negative things. Man Rose has been consistently there for us this season, even when he has faced his own struggles, and he knows we will always be there for him.”

The creation of a legacy
The Roses founded the lacrosse program at Northport High School in 1990. Rainson-Rose, an All-American lacrosse player for Cortland State, has led Northport to 15 state championships, nine Long Island titles and two Class A crowns with her assistant coach and husband (she and Alton were married in 1991). She is the winningest coach in New York State history, with 500 career victories. The milestone came this past May with an emotional 8-7 victory over Commack in the Suffolk Class A semifinal.

Together, the Roses have produced more than 140 high school lacrosse All-Americans and more than 200 D1 athletes. Rainson-Rose also built the highly recognized Long Island Yellow Jackets travel lacrosse program from the ground up. For these achievements and many more, Man Rose was by her side.

Speaking about her husband at last week’s event, Rainson-Rose recognized Alton as an integral part of Northport Athletics, coaching both football and lacrosse for the past 37 years. “He truly touched the lives of so many young people as a role model, motivator and dedicated mentor. Al Rose is a kind, caring, strong, compassionate man. His kindness, warmth and infectious spirit truly make him a remarkable soul,” she said through tears to. “As he battles adversity, he teaches us all about strength and courage, and how to fight like a warrior. He is not only an incredible coach, but also a great father and friend. It is an honor to be here tonight to to honor this great coach, who I am proud to call my husband.”

In his introduction of the Roses at the June 18 event, Father Andrew Garnett said there was much to learn from the couple. “They have served as mentors, guides and beacons of two things, people, and this is what I want you to take away from tonight: perseverance and dedication. Their influence extends far beyond the sports field and touches the lives of many with their unwavering dedication and passion .From what I’ve heard, Al and Carol have always embodied this mentality, showing us that true success comes from effort and dedication to becoming our best selves.”

Making “Game Day”
How Nancy and Bob Hendrick’s painting came to be is a testament to the fluidity of the community and the impact the Roses have had on those around them – including those they just met.

Last month, Bob said online that he would like to start an athletics series focusing on local sports teams. One thing led to another, resulting in a seamless – and fateful, Bob said – collaboration between locals with a passion for art, sports and community.

After seeing the post, Maria Monda, TCAC’s resident artist of the month and catalyst for “all this happening,” Bob said, told him about Steve Zaitz, an award-winning photojournalist who works closely with Northport Sports. Monda, outgoing president of the Northport High School Marching Band Booster Club, approached Zaitz about a photo he thought could be adapted for paint. One photo immediately came to mind, Zaitz told the Journal, although he had submitted about a dozen to Bob for review.

“I went through them and when I saw Coach Al’s picture I thought, ‘This is incredible, like a Vince Lombardi moment,’” Bob said. He immediately named it “Game Day” and began using the inspiration from the words to create the painting. It was the same photo Zaitz had been thinking of.

“Bob was also charmed by this photo and when he read the story I had written about the lacrosse team and the Roses’ 500th win, I think he was overwhelmed by how much this would mean to everyone involved with the team, the town and especially Carol, who is an institution in Northport,” Zaitz said.

Bob invited Zaitz and Monda to the TCAC studio so they could share some backstory about Coach Al. After hearing their stories and reading the “overwhelming” response to the photo and the Roses’ story online, the Hendricks decided to honor Man Rose in person and present the painting to the community. “We need to honor our true hometown heroes who make us all better people,” Nancy said. Father Andrew was on board and immediately agreed to host the event at the church’s Houghton Hall. He placed a basket in the back of the church and told the parish about the plans to celebrate Man Rose. “The parishioners donated a lot of money from their hearts to help purchase pizza, water and snacks for all the athletes and attendees,” Bob said.

He and Nancy completed the painting in three days.

“Game Day” depicts a moment in time, a moment before the game when Man Rose walked up to Zaitz on the sideline, Carol and the girls lacrosse team standing behind him in the sunset.

“What I always try to do, both with my photos and my stories, is capture something meaningful and special from an event that might otherwise have gone unnoticed by everyone,” Zaitz said.

A vignette in the painting focuses on Man Rose, Rainson-Rose’s silver hair gleaming in the background. Red ribbons are everywhere.

The feelings are mutual…
Just before “Game Day” was unveiled, the four captains of the lacrosse team – Baudier, Kennedy Radziul, Christina Lauro and Julia Huxtable – shared words of encouragement and affection for Man Rose. They represented a larger team of girls who love and respect their coaches, their teammates and their journeys on and off the field.

“I am so happy and honored to celebrate Man Rose today and share a few words with you about this incredible man,” said Radziul. “From day one, Man Rose has been my biggest supporter. He is always positive and encouraging and has taught me to persevere even in the most difficult of times. Whether it’s an encouraging word or a hug after a tough game, he has always encouraged me.” But Man Rose isn’t just a cheerleader, she said.

“With everything that has happened this past year, he has shown me, all my teammates and the Northport community that he is a fighter, a person of true strength and courage.

Everyone knows how physically strong the man Rose is. It is his mental toughness and heart that are most inspiring to me. He has the most incredible confidence and determination…. I know I’m not the only person in Northport who sees what an extraordinary human being Man Rose is. I think the people gathered here today provide just a small glimpse of the impact he has had on our community.”

Lauro agreed. “I am continually inspired by your strength, determination and loving energy. You show me that even in tough times, we can find the courage to keep going,” she told Rose, who sat front and center with Carol and their two sons, Cameron and Cobi.

Growing up, the boys spent some time on the sidelines of the lacrosse field watching the Tigers practice; at last week’s event, they towered over their parents.

“Man Rose, when I think of you, you are like a ray of sunshine in my eyes and on behalf of the rest of the team,” Lauro said. “Seeing your smile always brightens my day. When a game, practice or whatever got tough during the season, I would look over and smile because you were always smiling. Your smile reminds me of the beauty of playing lacrosse.”

Huxtable concluded the evening’s comments with a look at what Man Rose has brought to the team, how much of an impact he has had on each player’s life, and the mutual admiration and support that will continue long into this season.

“Some people say you can’t teach the heart, but Man Rose proved them wrong. Through his leadership, his fight and unwavering spirit, he taught us all how to fight not only individually, but as one man,” she said.

“Through Man Rose’s leadership, we learned the true meaning of strength. It’s not about avoiding the challenges that come your way, it’s about meeting them, whether you’re alone or have a team of 36 girls who love you, or an amazing woman who will be there every step of the way. you are. His love, courage and dedication have left a huge mark on us. And for that we are eternally grateful. It has been a pleasure to have you as coach for four years. No one deserves this as much as you do. Keep fighting. We are all by your side.”