LCHS Softball Coach stepping away from head coaching duties to focus on family, being a mom
After twenty-three years as a head coach, Michelle Rochinski is hanging up the head coach title with a record of 541-171 and 76% career win percentage. She has advanced her team to the playoffs each year that she has been a head coach, has been named District Coach of the Year seven times, County Coach of the Year five times and will most likely add one to each of those categories when this year’s awards are announced. Her teams have won nine District Championships and had three state tournament appearances, resulting in a second place finish with the Montgomery Bears in 2012 and two State Championships with the Lions in 2022 and 2023.
“This decision was made prior to the outcome of this season,” Rochinski shared. “I just needed to make sure that the season was about the girls, my players, and I could announce my decision after we finished our run for another title. We had huge goals and I wanted to see them accomplish them without any attention being on me.”
Rochinski is not retiring from teaching and coaching, but instead is stepping away from the duties of a head coach so she can commit her weekends and holidays to her family. Her son Cade, a 2022 Lake Creek graduate, is a linebacker at Howard Payne University and her daughter Kalee, the Lions starting catcher who graduated this year, is committed to play at UTSA beginning this fall.
“I need to be a mom now, in the stands cheering for Cade and Kalee,” Rochinski said. “They deserve my time and I’m so excited to just get to be their biggest fan.”
Rochinski has coached her daughter through high school, as well as in select ball during her junior high years. Though she admits that coaching your own kid, especially in such a successful and competitive program, for sure had its moments, she wouldn’t change a thing about the opportunity these last four years provided for the two of them together.
“We’ve had our times,” Rochinski said. “I think it’s been harder for her than for me, but she says she wouldn’t change a thing and I surely wouldn’t either. “
In 2012 Coach Rochinski brought home a silver medal to her little girl and exactly ten years later they brought home gold together.
When Kaylee was preparing to enter high school, Michelle considered stepping away from coaching so her daughter could play without her mom on the staff. Then with a new high school opening and the opportunity to be the coach that opens a school and lays a foundation for a brand new program, Rochinski admits that’s an opportunity that not every coach gets. Kalee wanted to go to Lake Creek, her zoned campus, and Michelle wasn’t going to coach against her, so they agreed to give it a year and see what would come.
“Gosh, it just goes by so fast,” Rochinski said. “After the first year- yeah, I knew I wanted to keep going with her. When we get home from practices and games, I have to be intentional about being mom and not being coach, but it’s been so very enjoyable. This senior class I have seen play forever, since they were all little girls, I have been cheering for them to succeed. So to make the run we made with this class, with my daughter’s friends, it’s been good times.”
Rochinski has a lot to say about a 23-year head coaching career, but her favorite thing, the thing that made her show up each day and give all she has to softball, was seeing the growth that comes in student-athletes as they learn and mature from freshmen to seniors. She finds so much joy and value in the energy that the girls provided and the passion and enthusiasm they have shown for a sport they love, but getting to witness the way they improve and grow in just four years was definitely the highlight of her coaching career.
“Getting to reflect with them on the ways they have improved and learned, yeah, that’s my favorite part,” Rochinski said. “And just being a part of influencing them with the life lessons that sports can offer. Having them come back from college and admit they learned something from me as a coach, things about life, that’s what coaching is all about for me.”
There’s no doubt that coaching has also been about winning, as success has been evident when Rochinski has been a head coach. Over the last two seasons, the Lions have only lost one game, setting a new state record for most consecutive wins with 82. After a loss to Georgetown in game two of the Regional Finals, some around the team wondered how the Lions would handle a loss and if it would end their run to defend their state championship. Rochinski says it was clear that it was never about a win streak. Lots of good teams win state championships with losses and it’s how they overcome those losses that really builds a champion.
“Winning a state tournament undefeated wasn’t even a goal to have in mind this year, because it’s so unreal,” Rochinski said. “That streak was phenomenal and it may be a streak that is never again broken, but the goal this year was always to win two games a week, which would get us to the state tournament. Even going back-to-back is so incredibly hard and I don’t know how many people really understand that, so just getting to the tournament two years in a row was an incredible feat. And two games a week. That was our goal and that’s what we did.”
Before the first pitch of the Championship game on Saturday afternoon, Rochinski was recognized on the field with her husband and two children by her side, named the National Federation of State High School Coaches (NFHS) Coach of the Year. After the historic 41-0 season in 2022, Rochinski was named the 5A-6A Texas Girls Coaches Association Coach of the Year, TSWA Class 5A Coach of the Year, H-Town Sports High School Coach of the Year, Vype Houston Coach of the Year and with her assistant coaches, the Lions coaching staff was named the NFCA Coaching Staff of the Year.
Rochinski feels like she’s achieved the goals that she has set for herself as a coach and her 500 plus career wins, three state tournament appearances and the foundation that’s been laid for the Lake Creek softball program can clearly support that thought. Since she’s not stepping away from coaching altogether, she is excited for the opportunity to do something different. As Lake Creek’s Assistant Athletic Coordinator, she says she wants to be there for everybody, supporting and helping all head coaches with whatever they need.
“Whether it’s advice that I can offer after my 24 years’ experience or helping them manage the outside influences that can impact their season, I just want to help,” Rochinski said. “I know I have more to offer our Lake Creek Lions, I just need to do it in a role that allows me to focus on my family too, while helping as many coaches and players as I can in the years I have left. We have amazing kids at Lake Creek and I’m just excited to be a part of all the greatness that is happening here.”
Rochinski will continue to serve the Lake Creek Athletic Department in her role as Assistant Athletic Coordinator and will also be the assistant golf coach in the spring, helping to support those successful programs that produced a State Finalist team with the girls and the State Champion team for the boys in 2023. In her career, Michelle has been an assistant coach for volleyball, basketball and soccer and though golf is going to be new for her, the mentality of coaching champions and helping student-athletes find success in the sport and in life is what she knows she can offer.
“Michelle has been an incredible asset for Montgomery ISD at both MHS and Lake Creek and we are so thankful that she is going to stay on board as an active team member of Lake Creek Athletics,” MISD Athletic Director Coach Heard said. “She has a commitment to excellence in all that she does and the way she has grown such great character and maturity in her student-athletes is something we are not ready to let go of quite yet. Any female-athlete that she can help train mentally and any coach she can mentor will be blessed by her leadership and work ethic.”
Rochinski will be a part of the search and selection process for the coach that takes the reigns of Lake Creek Softball and is excited for the future of the program and all sports at Lake Creek. She is a celebrated coach for more than just wins, as her reputation and that of her program is seen as one that rises to the level of character development she expects as well. The Lions softball team has been praised for the ways they win with grace, treat their opponents, serve in the community and how to behave as a guest in a visitor’s locker room or on a bus, and Rochinksi says those things, in addition to the kind of students they are in the classroom, are what make champions even better than an 82-game win-streak does.
“That’s always been an important part of our program,” Rochinski said. “It’s not just about varsity and a winning record, it’s about all the players in the program and how they are performing in the classroom and out in their daily lives. That’s the most important part of education for us as coaches. I’m not saying my way is the right way all the time, but the more we can implement the character and the reputation into what we teach and train in student-athletes, the more successful they will be in life and the better Lake Creek High School will be.”
So it’s not goodbye. It’s see you in August, when Rochinski will take lessons learned and the standard of excellence she has set and support all of the Lake Creek family, while having time available to be her own kids’ number one fan.