School and Hard Knocks
“Dedication” defines Hope Rogers, whether it is a coach lauding this remarkable student-athlete, or it is Rogers herself describing her commitment to her team.
Rogers is a junior in Penn State’s College of Education studying childhood and early adolescent education (CEAED). She is also a member of the Penn State women’s rugby team, which won its second consecutive USA Rugby National Championship this year.
On the Field
Hailing from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Rogers is a true athlete. One example of this athleticism is her track and field success during her senior year. She had never participated in the sport before, but she broke the school record in discus and won gold at the district meet.
It was during high school when Rogers started playing rugby. Prior to that, she had never even seen it.
“I actually thought I was going out for the lacrosse team,” said Rogers “I thought rugby was lacrosse, but I’m glad it wasn’t because I loved rugby from the first time I played.”
Rogers has played rugby for four years. While in high school, she was selected for some regional all-star teams. It was at that time, she said, when she realized that she had the potential to be a great rugby player and started dreaming about becoming a member of the USA Women’s National Team (WNT).
“A passion [for rugby] rose inside of me,” said Rogers. “I currently play for the U20 WNT, but I want to be on the senior team,” said Rogers. “I have a huge desire to represent my country.”
When it came time to choose a college, she said that the thing that drew her to Penn State was an environment that would allow her rugby skills to flourish.
“I knew I needed to be in an environment where I would be challenged and have the support to become the best player I could be, which would hopefully land me a spot on the WNT,” said Rogers. “I knew that I had to go to Penn State if I wanted to reach my full potential. Penn State had the pieces I really needed.”
According to Penn State women’s rugby head coach, Pete Steinberg, Rogers is already well on her way in that process.
“She is a physical player on the field and makes plays,” said Steinberg. “She dominates on the field and can change a game’s momentum. Hope's impact is also in the commitment she has made to be a great player. She is always at practice early working on her skills and lives an elite-athlete lifestyle.”
Chris Amoratis, Penn State women’s rugby assistant coach, added that Rogers contributes to the team in multiple ways.
“Firstly, she is a dynamic athlete, possessing explosive power when running with the ball or playing defense,” said Amoratis. “She has good skills on attack, including good passing and decision-making. Hope works hard to refine those skills both on the field and off.”
Steinberg added, “She cares deeply about her teammates and is always there to help. This year she has taken on a greater leadership role and has mentored some of the younger players. She is a great role model.”
All of this work and dedication culminated with Rogers winning the MVP award for her performance at the 2013 championship game.
“I am very honored to have received the MVP award,” said Rogers. “However, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. We truly are a team. We play with each other and for each other, and that is why we win games.”
Off the Field
The other half of the equation for a student-athlete is life in the classroom. Rogers is studying to become an elementary teacher so she can make an impact in children’s lives.
“I want to show children that learning can be fun and exciting and not all about standardized tests,” said Rogers. “I want children to want to learn. I want to impact kids in a positive way and make a difference in the future generation. For me, I would spend my entire life teaching just for that special ‘a-ha’ moment in a child. It is an amazing feeling.”
She also said that the College of Education has provided a number of great professors that have challenged her as a student.
One of those faculty members was Cindy Linzell, a lecturer in the College of Education. Linzell said that Rogers is a natural teacher.
“Hope is a student who was born to be a teacher because of her love for teaching, learning, and students,” said Linzell. “Hope feels like she has so much to learn, and that is the hallmark of a great educator.”
Linzell went on to say that Rogers was a heart-warming presence, one that the other students always wanted to work with.
Like most student-athletes, Rogers works at balancing her schedule.
“With school, work, and rugby, I really have no downtime,” said Rogers. “I get up for classes and lifting. I fit work in there at some point. Then in the evenings, I’m at the field practicing or conditioning. I go home and try to focus on schoolwork and go to bed.”
Despite these challenges, Rogers said she loves Penn State.
“My rugby team is super close, and they truly are my family,” said Rogers. “I have great coaches as mentors, and they have helped me become a stronger person on and off the field. Overall, the schooling, the rugby, and my job are amazing. I wouldn’t have chosen another school.”
Rogers sees many connections between her sport and her academic pursuits.
“In rugby, we always learn,” said Rogers. “We never stop learning about the game or techniques. In school, especially for a teacher, we never stop learning, and we never stop getting better. We find better ways for children to learn and to help them reach their full potential. Everyone has new ideas and brings something new to the table so we need to be open and ready to always learn.”
--by Kevin Sliman (June 2013)