Cal’s Tierra Rogers – Remarkable KidAuthor: AnnKillion | Filed under: Bay Area Sports
Just got back from a press conference over at Cal for Tierra Rogers. As an adult, I’m stunned by her composure.
I don’t know how an 18-year old – who has been through what she’s been through in the past 20 months – could sit in front of a bank of cameras and notepads and answer questions calmly and rationally. Sometimes with a shy smile on her face.
Rogers, in case you don’t know, has been hit with double tragedies.
In January of 2008, her father was shot to death on the streets of San Francisco. He had gone out of the gym at halftime of her game at Sacred Heart Prep to have a cigarette and was gunned down. Rogers was an All-American. She coped with the tragedy, made it through that year and her senior year, eventually signing with Cal.
She was living her dreams, and her father’s dreams.
She had been in school for about a month and was working out at Haas on Sept. 21, when she collapsed. She was rushed to Alta Bates, where she stayed for a week for testing. When doctors determined she suffered from a heart condition, she was transfered to UCSF. There, tests revealed that she suffers from Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia. She had a defibrillator implanted.
Doctors told her she can never play basketball again.
“I was devastated,” she said Friday. “I thought, ‘This can’t be real.’ I think it hasn’t hit me.”
She isn’t sure how exactly she is coping with such prfound loss.
“Honestly, I don’t know,” she said. “I was raised to be strong. My Dad always told me, ‘You’re the best. You’re a strong woman.’ My Mom has been so supportive and has taught me how to keep God in my mind.”
Her mother and little brother moved away from San Francisco, to start a new life in Houston. But her mother came back to be by her daughter’s side at the hospital. Rogers is getting counseling through school.
She’s clearly wracked with emotions, about the loss of her sport, the loss of her father and the connections between the two.
“I lost him during a basketball game,” she said. “I can’t pursue my dreams any more. I’m letting him down, letting myself down. I think of him when I’m laying down at night.”
She knows that’s irrational. She also knows that it is okay to have irrational feelings.
“She understands the roller coast she’s about to go on,” said her coach Joanne Boyle.
Cal will honor Rogers’ scholarship. Boyle wants to keep her as involved with the team as possible. Rogers said she may chanel her competitive spirit into coaching. She may find some way of using the platform she’s brutally gained.
Her story has already touched others. As she walked out of Haas, Rogers carried a large pile of mail that had come in to the basketball office in the past few days.
“She’s a lot stronger than I am,” Boyle said, fighting back tears. “We talk about how there’s a bigger plan and a bigger purpose.”
It’s hard right now to figure out what that is. Except to tell the world that an 18-year old young woman can bear the weight of the world on her slender shoulders.