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Going Out In Style

April 21, 2004

By Adam Porcelli

Things change over the course of one’s college years. It is hard to find many seniors who believe they are the same person now as they were freshmen year. For a student-athlete, the evolution during this special four-year span can often be even greater. On fields and courts of play, it is common to see a na?ve freshman go from the bench to stardom as an experienced senior. However, true personal growth and the quality of a graduating senior are measured not by how her game has improved, but by the development of her character, regardless of playing time. This can be proven by a senior on the Notre Dame women’s golf team, co-captain Rebecca Rogers.

Rogers’ playing career has been filled with change. As a freshman, she got off to a fast start, winning the Notre Dame Invitational in her fourth collegiate tournament on the strength of a then-school record 70 (-2) in the opening round. In her first three seasons, she played in 25 of the Irish’s 31 events, including 21 as a member of the scoring lineup.

Unfortunately for Rogers, as the team has continued to grow stronger, to the point of 2003-04 being the best season in program history, Rogers’ time on the course has diminished. During the Irish’s record-setting fall campaign, Rogers only played in the Notre Dame Invitational as an individual, tying for 50th. Although frustrating at times, Rogers took this change in stride and remained positive, putting the team first.

“In golf, you have to live in the present and look at the here and now,” said the Alpharetta, Ga., native. “You have to take things one hole at a time; you can’t worry about anything in the past or the future. I went into this season knowing it was my last, and I wanted to do something with it.

“I started the year a little frustrated not being able to play more, but I couldn’t be too upset because of how well the team was doing. I was very happy in my role of captain and being able to encourage my teammates during such an amazing semester.”

It is in her important role of team co-captain that Rogers’ true character shines. Rogers’ thoughts on her appointment as a team leader demonstrates what has become more important to the finance major than any round of golf.

“I’ve loved it; I mean loved it,” said Rogers emphatically. “My team is an incredible bunch of girls and being a part of this team has made being a captain such a great experience. It is such an important role and I hope I played it as best I could. It has definitely been one of the most memorable experiences of my college career.”

Earlier this month, Rogers’ positive, team-oriented attitude, along with hard work and determination, earned her a spot back in the Irish lineup for the Indiana Invitational (April 3-4) in Bloomington. Two weeks later, Rogers continued her quest to end her senior year on a high note, qualifying to be a member of the scoring six at the Lady Boilermaker Invitational (April 17-18) at Purdue.

The two tournaments marked Rogers’ first back-to-back appearances in the lineup since participating in the first four tournaments of her junior season. Rogers was excited about the chance to once again contribute to the team on the course.

“It was so nice to be out there,” said Rogers. “Obviously, being a competitor, you like to compete. It was so much fun being on the course and part of the lineup again. I felt that a lot of effort, hard work and even a little frustration paid off.”

Notre Dame head coach Debby King thinks Rogers has been an excellent co-captain and leader. King is impressed with Rogers as a person and sums it up in a simple, yet effective way.

“I can quite honestly say Rebecca is one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life,” said King. “I couldn’t be happier for her stepping up this spring and qualifying for two tournaments so far. She will be missed next year.”

Currently, Rogers and the rest of the squad are focused on getting ready for Notre Dame’s season finale, the BIG EAST Championship, April 24-25, at the Warren Golf Course. Although an automatic bid is not on the line, everyone knows how significant it would be to repeat as conference champions after winning the league’s inaugural women’s golf title in 2003.

“Everybody is pumped about the BIG EAST,” said Rogers. “I really have a good feeling about winning it. We will be playing on our home course and we’re confident that we can take it again this year. It would be great to win it back-to-back years and end this season on a positive note.”

For Rogers, it would be a career highlight to continue her recent streak of good play and win a place in the Irish lineup for the BIG EAST. Rogers, though, is still a consummate teammate and unselfish person before anything else.

“It would be a pretty big highlight in my four years,” pondered Rogers. “Being a senior, I keep getting more reflective, and I know this is kind of it. I would love to compete in my last collegiate tournament. I will have friends and family here and just knowing I could help my team one more time would make it great. I love playing, but even if I don’t, I just want our team to win and will be happy to be there for my teammates.”

When forced to think further about life after Notre Dame, Rogers continues to show what has been the most important part of her collegiate years. Not surprisingly, it is not winning the Notre Dame Invite as a freshman, or even getting back into the lineup as a senior. Instead, it has been growing as a person while representing her school as a member of the women’s golf team.

“When you walk around Notre Dame, or even when we go to tournaments, you just see so much pride,” reflected Rogers. “I’ve loved being able to represent this place and everything single one of my years here. Each year, I learned a little more about myself and it has helped me become a better person.

“As much as I am going to miss being out on the course competing, I’m not going to remember what I did on a specific hole, in a specific tournament. When I look back, I am going to remember all the great moments with my teammates and my coaches. Our team is always laughing and having fun and my coaches have been awesome; I love them all and will miss them. As clich? as it sounds, this experience is something I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”