Sam Graham ~ Guest Writer

Caption: Rogers (77) celebrates with teammates from Chrome Lacrosse Club after defeating Atlas Lacrosse Club 24-23 to claim the Premier Lacrosse League Championship. (Photo Credit: Lynchburg Sports Department)

Kevin Rogers, a 2020 graduate of University of Lynchburg became a professional lacrosse champion last week when Chrome Lacrosse Club defeated Atlas Lacrosse Club 24-23 to claim the 2023 Premier Lacrosse League championship on Feb. 26 in Washington, D.C.

Rogers, a former standout midfielder at Lynchburg and the 2020 Division III Men’s Lacrosse Player of the Year, was named to the club’s 12-man championship roster ahead of the 2023 PLL Championship series in his second season with the team.

“Less than a week out, I’m still going crazy over it,” Rogers said. “To cut that net down and to celebrate the way we did, it’s so crazy. It’s so much fun.”

Rogers won the 2018 Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship with Lynchburg, before transferring to High Point University for his fifth-year where he won a Southern Conference championship in his only season with the Panthers. Now he can add a professional championship to his resume.

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Caption: Rogers celebrates during a Lynchburg men’s lacrosse game (Photo Credit: Lynchburg Sports Department)

“It’s crazy to win an ODAC title, a SoCon title and then a professional title,” he said.

Lynchburg head lacrosse coach Steve Koudelka tuned in to the championship match to support his former player, noting how proud he was to see Rogers live out his dream.

“He is a great young man who has great parents and brothers,” Koudelka said. “Watching him on that Sunday was awesome. My son and I watched and he belongs on that field. He is one of the best.”

Upon graduation from Loudoun County High School, Rogers had opted to continue his lacrosse and academic careers at Lynchburg, becoming the only player on his high school team to commit to a Division III institution, while multiple teammates were recruited to the Division I level.

“I never really got looked at by any division one schools,” Rogers said. “I was looked at by top division three programs and maybe one division II institution.”

Rogers, whose older brother Sean played lacrosse at Division III Franklin & Marshall, was mainly recruited by Cabrini University and Koudelka at Lynchburg.

He remembers the first time he stepped foot on campus to watch his brother, Sean play with Franklin & Marshall against Lynchburg on Shellenberger Field.

“That was just a great time to get on campus and see the campus, talk to coach Koudelka and then just tour the facilities and watch some lacrosse,” Rogers said.

Deciding on Lynchburg proved to be a great choice on the part of Rogers, as he went on to graduate in four years with a bachelor’s degree in Communications Studies, an ODAC Championship and an NCAA Division III National Player of the Year trophy.

That is not to mention the opportunity to spend his final two seasons on Shellenberger Field with his younger brother, Brett.

“Just having Brett there on campus made us closer,” Kevin Rogers said. “We bonded really well on that lacrosse field. Sometimes he just knew what I was going to do with the ball before it even happened. And those are the things that we’ll talk about forever. So I’m extremely grateful that he made the decision to go to Lynchburg.”

Family is one of the first things that Rogers will talk about when discussing his lacrosse journey, and one of the first things that his coaches notice as well.

It is one of the first things that High Point men’s lacrosse coach Jon Torpey noticed, when recruiting him.

“I loved him,” Torpey said. “He’s an unreal person and so engaging. His family was terrific.”

Koudelka got the chance to see it first hand in the way that Kevin and Brett interacted with one another on a daily basis.

“Kevin has always had a great heart,” said the 27th-year head coach. “He really looked out for Brett while also allowing Brett to be his own man.”

After his senior year was cut short just five games into the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was time for Rogers to start thinking about his next steps.

While initially considering a return to Lynchburg for a fifth season, Rogers changed his mind and began to explore opportunities elsewhere, placing his name into the transfer portal.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to play at the highest level so when that opportunity came, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Rogers said. “I remember calling every single guy in my class and all the coaches with tears coming down my face.”

Both Rogers and Koudelka know that the 2021 season could have been very special for Rogers as an individual as well as the Lynchburg team.

That season did still result in a trip to the NCAA Division III Quarterfinals for Lynchburg and Rogers found success at High Point, but one cannot help but wonder what the result could have been if the two had stayed together.

“Kevin was very open and honest with me,” Koudelka said. “We really did not have his masters program so looking elsewhere made sense. I know it was a hard decision for him and we obviously wanted him to come back. We had a special group returning and he would have only built on his success.”

Instead, Rogers set his sights on the Division I landscape, eyeing schools with rich traditions such as University of Virginia and University of Denver.

However, Rogers already had existing relationships with several players on the High Point roster, which ultimately resulted in his commitment to Torpey and the Panthers.

“I could tell the culture was very similar within the locker room,” Rogers said. “I could almost see aspects of Lynchburg in High Point.”

Sometimes, it can be difficult to walk into a new room and immediately adjust to your surroundings. This was not a problem for Rogers.

He scored his first goal for High Point seven seconds into the team’s first game of the season against Robert Morris, setting the tone early for an eventual 21-15 High Point win.

Although Rogers remembers the shock of being told what to do by the sophomores, it was not with pride or arrogance that he reflected back, but instead with respect and admiration.

“It just showed a lot that those guys were bought in even at that young of an age,” he said.

Torpey too remembered the ease with which Rogers was accepted and bought into the culture of his new team.

“There was not one issue. He came in, was welcomed and immediately the guys respected him.”

Although he was not the most sought after recruit in high school, failing to gain the recognition of some of his peers, Rogers managed to climb the lacrosse ladder relying on his work ethic and his heart.

As he spoke to me while driving members of the Temple University men’s club lacrosse team – of which he is a coach – to a game against the University of Texas at Austin, it was this heart and selflessness that shown through, thoughtfully answering each question even after technical difficulties prevented our conversation from taking place during his day off the day prior.

These facets of his personality guided him to recognition as Division III’s top lacrosse player, the leading scorer – as a midfielder – on a Division I NCAA Tournament qualifying team and eventually to the championship roster of a title-winning team in the Premier Lacrosse League.

“If Kevin had a bad practice, for his standards, he would stick around and get in extra reps on his own,” Koudelka remembered. “He would just work until he felt he had it right.”

That extra work never ceased, leading him to the top ranks of the lacrosse landscape – a place where his jersey can be purchased online, where he can be found playing on national television and where he is granted an invitation to try out for.

While it is not just lacrosse that defines who Kevin Rogers is (he also enjoys skiing, has flown a plane, and used to sport an epic mullet), it is the sport he loves and the dream he chases.

“I’ve always been that kid who was never recruited heavily, but I loved the sport so much that when I did make that jump, I thought, ‘I’m literally living the dream of playing lacrosse, the sport I love at the highest level, and having so many people support me,’” Rogers said. 

“That is something that I can hold in my heart. That I am living the dream that I’ve always wanted to and I hope to continue to do that for another few years.”

Photo 3:

Caption: Kevin Rogers poses with the Premier Lacrosse League Championship trophy after helping Chrome Lacrosse club to the title on February 26 (Photo Credit: Lynchburg Sports Department)

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