Roeper Athletic Director Ernie Righetti is enjoying some well-deserved time in the spotlight after he was named the MIAAA Regional Athletic Director of the Year earlier this month.
The Roeper School, specifically the Birmingham-based Roeper Upper School, competes in the MIAAA, or the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administration, which is made up of more than 500 schools across the state.
Righetti, a Beverly Hills resident who has served as Roeper's athletic director for 31 years, received the award at the MIAAA's annual mid-winter conference in Traverse City on March 18.
"Ernie Righetti has unselfishly served as a progressive and consistent coach and athletic director," said Ed Mehlberg of Oakland Christian School. "His leadership and dedication have stimulated a quality athletic program and encourage exemplary sportsmanship."
When Righetti first arrived at Roeper, students were competing in an elementary-sized gym with nails popping out of the floorboard. Female athletes only had one set of uniforms.
Now, Roeper has established itself in Class D play, with the Roeper boys basketball team winning a MHSAA district title over Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in early March. The Roeper girls basketball team made it to the district finals this month, as well.
Righetti has also distinguished himself as the Roeper boys basketball coach, earning his 700th career win in January 2012. In 2008, Righetti received an Associated Press Coach of the Year award.
The success of the sports programs at Roeper, a school well known for its academic prowess and for educating gifted students, is based on its "no-cut" policy, Upper School Director Lisa Baker said.
"Ernie is insistent that this policy is the backbone of our program," she said. "That's because Ernie believes in students' capacity for growth over time, rather than inherent natural ability."
"I've watched Ernie advocate, donate money, give advice, and attend weddings and funerals," she added. "This guy never quits. He cares deeply for our school, for his athletic program, and for the students and their families."