Quaker Valley HOF inductee Rogers left her mark on track

| Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Jasmine Rogers doesn't enjoy running. She never has, and she probably never will.

But that didn't stop her from accomplishing things on the track no other Quaker Valley girl had.

“One thing I never liked, and I still as an adult don't like, is practice,” Rogers said. “Running for fun is still something I don't do. I liked track because of winning.”

Winning found Rogers often enough to keep her happy while at Quaker Valley, especially her senior year.

She became the first girl in Quaker Valley history to claim a PIAA track championship, winning the 100-meter dash and 100 hurdles, in which she tied the state record.

But it was her performance in the hurdles at the WPIAL championship that she remembers most fondly. She entered the race as the second seed on a cloudy day, already knowing she would be advancing to the state meet.

“I kid you not, the sky opened up before the race, and I thought, ‘I can do this,' ” Rogers said. “I took off and just started pulling away. I beat my personal best by like 0.7 seconds, and when I had looked, I beat the WPIAL record. That wasn't even in my sights.”

She also starred in the gym, playing volleyball all four years and three years of basketball.

Her dominance as an athlete wasn't the only thing that made her stand out, though.

The Rogers family moved to Western Pennsylvania from Ohio going into her freshman year, and the transition didn't come easy at first.

“As a black girl in a very white neighborhood that has a completely different social structure, everything was extra awkward,” Rogers said. “I was a year younger, too.”

Rogers eventually made good friends within her homeroom class, but it was athletics that helped her assimilate.

Though she excelled in basketball as a middle schooler in Ohio, her love of volleyball grew quickly. She joined the club volleyball team as a freshman, where she met Janette Schneider, a sophomore at the time.

“She's a wonderful woman,” Rogers said. “We've been best friends since we met my freshman year of high school.”

Most of Rogers' individual accolades came on the track, but it was her career as a volleyball player that earned her a scholarship to Manhattan College in New York City.

“I realize now as an adult that history always tells the story of the winners,” Rogers said. “For volleyball, nobody remembers that my junior year was the first time in Quaker Valley history that we made it to states.”

Rogers was the only junior starting on a team that featured six seniors. A third-place finish in the WPIAL earned the girls a trip to the PIAA tournament, but a first-round exit left the team's accomplishment as an afterthought in many minds, Rogers said.

There was a rule in Rogers' household that the kids had to be doing something after school. That something eventually became sports, and her siblings followed suit.

Darren Rogers starred as a quarterback for the Quakers and played football at Kent State after graduating in 2006. Christa Rogers, a 2008 graduate, was a multi-sport star in track, volleyball and basketball, much like her sister.

“I have amazing parents,” Jasmine Rogers said. “My mom and dad pushed me to play sports. When the older child does it, it kind of pushes everyone else to do it. We had an amazing balance in our house because of it.”

After two years at Manhattan College, Rogers transferred to Delaware State where she continued her track career. She stayed there to earn her master's degree as a graduate assistant before coaching track at the University of the District of Columbia for two years.

Rogers teaches kindergarten at the Friendship Southeast Elementary Academy, a charter school in Washington, D.C., and coaches a club volleyball team with her sister.

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com or via Twitter @GHorvath_Trib.

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