By Nelson Coffin
Like most seniors, Kerrigan Rogers knows that the end of her high school athletic career is in the not-too-distant future.
The biggest difference with the St. Paul’s School for Girls field hockey standout is that she knows the exact date when her playing days are over — Oct. 9.
That’s the day she will undergo foot surgery to alleviate the intense pain that has been bothering her since at least her sophomore year.
Following a six-week recovery period, she will then have a similar surgery in 2019 on her other foot for the same condition that she calls “chronic flat feet and fallen arches” and is ofter misdiagnosed.
Little by little, the pain caused Rogers to shed club lacrosse, school lacrosse and club field hockey commitments, although she was determined to play her final campaign with the defending B Conference champions, who are now in they A Conference, this fall.
For her intestinal fortitude, physical courage and self-sacrifice, among other positive attributes, she was awarded an IAAM Character Coin on Tuesday afternoon at the Brooklandville school.
To know about why Rogers earned the award, just look at what she has gone through over the last couple of years in order to play the sport she loves.
Even after 40 hours of physical therapy, wearing splints during the night to immobilize her feet and receiving a plasma injection, Rogers’ goal was to al least get through her senior season.
However, that dream was shattered when her physician, Gregory Guyton, determined that the only remedy was surgery.
Rogers said that she wanted to have both operations completed before enrolling in college next fall, so an October surgery made the most sense.
Even so, there are five games remaining on the Gators’ schedule before the surgery date, which means that she will miss five regular-season contests and all of the playoffs.
And if the rest of the season goes as well as the opener did for Rogers in a 5-2 victory over Mount de Sales Academy, the Gators should be happy to have her contributions.
In that outing, she scored three goals to help lift the Gators over the Sailors.
With that kind of production, the pain Rogers describes as a nine on a scale of 1-10 when she is on the field and a six or a seven even while resting, might be at least a little more tolerable.
Rogers said that it was a sad day when she met St. Paul’s coach Ann McKenzie to tell her that about the decision to truncate her final season.
“I was very disappointed,” McKenzie said. “She is the core of the team. Despite her pain, she plays with passion without complaining and is an athlete that all coaches love to have. She has a beautiful stick and is graceful and selfless.”
One of four captains, three of whom are seniors (Kelsey Jones and Leighton Eber are the other seniors), Rogers knows best when to take herself out of a game — and McKenzie has given her permission to do so on the spot.
“I have come to rely on her to let me know when she needs to come out,” McKenzie said. “I let her know that just because she comes out, that doesn’t mean that she’ll spend the rest of the game on the bench.”
Although Rogers’ current season will be shortened, she made it through her junior campaign as her team rose to the top of the B Conference by shutting out Maryvale in the championship game, 3-0, last November.
She scored one of the goals in the finale for the Gators, who claimed their first title since earning an A Conference crown in 2003.
Ending that 13-year drought was sweet for Rogers and her teammates.
“We’re almost always underrated and almost always an underdog,” she said. “But as the season went on last year, we said ‘wait a minute, we’re doing better than we usually do.’ It’s just really good to have the championship under our belts as we head into the A Conference.”
The Gators will open A Conference play at home Sept. 17 against John Carroll and, as usual, Rogers plans to endure the pain that day in order to play.