Anyone who attends a girls’ volleyball game at Bloomingdale Senior High School (BSHS) will comment on the power of the game and the roar of the crowd. On the sidelines, helping to drive this dynamic team is assistant coach Tim Rovnanik.
After a recent heart attack, Rovnanik feels grateful to be courtside. “I wasn’t going to miss it. I’m here for the girls,” he said.
Prior to his heart attack, “life was pretty normal,” said Rovnanik. He was raising his grandchildren, substitute teaching and coaching at BSHS.
After he arrived at HCA Florida Brandon Hospital ER, cardiac surgeon Dr. Bradley Bufkin understood the immediate need for Rovnanik to have open-heart surgery.
Twenty-four hours after being admitted, Rovnanik was wheeled into surgery. He couldn’t resist coaching the cardiac care team and said they “have good cohesion as a team.”
“We did a coronary artery bypass surgery. We ended up doing four bypasses, and then after that he went to our intensive care unit and recovered well,” said Bufkin. “We are an ‘unending’ team within Brandon Hospital. We identify the health concern and transition excellent care from surgery to ICU to postoperative care.”
After the surgery, Rovnanik’s wife, Lezlie, checked his phone and was shocked to find he had over 500 text messages from the community wishing him well.
During the next few weeks, students dropped off hundreds of handwritten notes to the BSHS office, delivered to Rovnanik’s home by Principal Marcos Rodriguez. Head coach Damian Goderich mowed Rovnanik’s lawn and checked in regularly. ‘Coach Tim Strong’ T-shirts sold out quickly. A student-teacher volleyball game and GoFundMe raised over $20,000.
“I watched the GoFundMe account go up and up. I watched as students gave $2 and $5 donations and I wanted to share how much it meant to us. It really made such a big impact on our lives,” said Lezlie.
Rovnanik teaches his players how to overcome adversity, and now he has had to push himself. He was supported by the Brandon Hospital care team, his BSHS community and his family. Now, he is back courtside, doing what he does best: coach.
Rovnanik and the Bloomingdale Bulls made it all the way to the state volleyball tournament. They lost in the state semifinal in three sets to St. Thomas Aquinas but the girls “played their hearts out” for Rovnanik, and the team of caregivers at Brandon Hospital cheered them along too.