Mike Rolston has exchanged the playing kit for a coaching tracksuit after becoming First Grade assistant coach last season.
‘Rolo’ hung up his playing boots at the end of the 2018 season, which was his tenth at the club and fourth as First Grade captain.
The immediate transition from training with his teammates to becoming one of their coaches the following season required some adjustment.
“That was probably the biggest challenge, and I think it definitely would have been easier coaching players I didn’t know personally,” he explains.
“Treating someone as a player (while coaching) is different from how you treat a mate.”
“But it also helps in terms of knowing the players’ mindset, psyche and the culture at Tigers.”
Rolo has also come to terms with the different thought process required from a coach instead of a player.
“The biggest change has been the amount of thought I give football before I’m there.”
“When you’re playing, physically you need to do a lot to keep yourself right, and think about how you’re recovering, eating and so on.”
“But now I’m spending my Monday mornings re-watching footage and thinking about the next game coming up.”
Key to Rolo’s continued development as a coach has been working with First Grade Coach Adam Hett.
“He’s a very analytical thinker, very switched on in terms of the way he thinks about the game.”
“I definitely have a much simpler approach than what he does (laughs), but think that probably works well, potentially sometimes I can screen some of his messages to the boys in terms of how that might be interpreted.”
“It’s been good for me to learn from him, he’s experienced a lot of different environments within the professional football set-up, and it’s my role to help him ensure the sessions run smoothly and be a bit of a sounding board at times as well.”
In terms of his future in coaching, the former defender is keeping his focus on the top level.
“Within the future it would be good to consider taking on a head coach role for a junior team,” he commented.
“But right now, I still have that burning desire to get First Grade into NPL1 and I think that’s where my enthusiasm, passion and desire for coaching comes from.”
At the same time as his change of roles in football, Mike has embarked on a new professional challenge, starting his own digital marketing agency – Digi Den.
“I used to work for a company called Lion, starting with brands like XXXX Gold, James Squire, and at the time a little brand called Furphy,”
“I went into the digital team, which at first was just me. By the time I left there was about 20 people, and I’d worked across multiple areas of the brand management and marketing.”
“Now with Digi Den I’m putting what I’ve learned about digital marketing into a lot of different areas – e-commerce companies, non-profit organisations, craft breweries and even a bit of teaching!”
“It’s not been quite what I’ve expected in terms of the way I’ve found clients, but it’s been a great experience so far.”
The Digi Den specialises in digital strategy, social media, SEO and search engine marketing to help businesses connect with their online audience.