Darren Rogers starred on, off the field at Quaker Valley
Saturday, July 27, 2019 | 12:01 AM
Darren Rogers starred on the track, basketball court, football field and in the classroom while attending Quaker Valley.
Despite graduating in 2006, Rogers will add more honors to his storied high school career when he joins the Quaker Valley Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 29 at a ceremony at Sewickley Heights Golf Club.
He will join older sister, Jasmine, who was inducted in 2014.
“It’s pretty special to me,” Darren said. “I am pretty competitive, and my older sister is already in.”
That gives Darren and Jasmine bragging rights over younger sister, Christa, a 2008 graduate.
“That won’t last long. I anticipate my younger sister getting in,” Darren said with a laugh. “She is probably the better athlete of all of us.”
Nevertheless, Darren Rogers was a three-sport star and earned nine letters for the Quakers. He was a two-time state qualifier in the 110-meter hurdles. He finished second at the WPIAL Class AA championship meet and fourth at the PIAA championship meet his senior year.
“I wouldn’t call track my favorite, but it was probably my most necessary sport. It comes down to just you with the guy next to you,” he said. “The hurdles and triple jump were big events for me, but, if it was 800 meters or less, I’d try it.”
Rogers was part of some Quakers basketball teams that made deep postseason runs. They reached the WPIAL Class AA semifinals and PIAA quarterfinals his junior year and the WPIAL and PIAA semifinals his senior year.
“It was great being part of those teams. The big thing there was that practices were so competitive,” he said. “I wasn’t the best basketball player, but just competing and being around better basketball players made me better. They say iron sharpens iron, and that is true. Nobody wanted to lose. That’s how you get better. … Beating an Aliquippa team with Herb Pope and Jon Baldwin was one of the great memories I have.”
Rogers was a three-year starter at quarterback and defensive back for the football team. He earned all-WPIAL and all-state honors his senior year and was a WPIAL Scholar-Athlete Award winner.
“When you remember high school, unless you win a championship, the guys you are around every day are what you remember,” he said. “It was definitely fun to compete. I think the relationships I made played the biggest part in what helped me grow as an athlete and a person.”
Rogers went on to play football at Kent State. As a freshman, he was one of the Golden Flashes’ top receivers, catching passes from New England Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman, who played quarterback at Kent State. Rogers also saw time at quarterback and H-back his freshman and sophomore seasons.
“It was my first chance to see just how good of an athlete I was or wasn’t. Coming from a small program that won five games in four years, it was different. Here I am, and my first game is against Minnesota and the second one is against Navy,” he said. “Initially, it was overwhelming at first, trying to reestablish myself. I had to learn to start over again. It’s pretty cool to see some of the guys I played with go into the NFL.”
Rogers transferred to Gardner-Webb for his final two seasons. He moved to safety as a senior.
“Playing all the offensive positions helped on defense,” he said. “I wasn’t the fastest or strongest, but I had a little mental edge in seeing where guys were lining up and knowing they only had so many options of routes to run. That position was a bit more cerebral, and I really liked it.”
Upon graduation, Rogers took his skills to the European Football League and spent two years playing in Austria and Germany.
“Europe was awesome. Someone was paying you to do a hobby, basically,” he said. “I got to meet new people and have some great experiences.”
After that, he joined the Air Force and serves as an instructor pilot on a KC-135 Stratotanker for the 171st Air Refueling Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard based out of Pittsburgh International Airport.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “We can go just about anywhere. I’ve been all over the world.”
Rogers and his wife, Kaitlin, a former Kent State soccer player, reside in Clinton, close to the airport.
“I appreciate the people along the way who helped me,” he said. “Parents, coaches and people in the community — they say it takes a village and so many people definitely supported me. I am very grateful.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.
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