Instead Rogers sat on the sideline, unable to defend her crown and watched her senior year from the bench after she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee while playing summer ball.
Rogers is no stranger to knee injuries. Her freshman season, while playing at Reed, Rogers tore her ACL along with both meniscus muscles. Now playing at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, a Division II program, Rogers is still plagued by knee trouble. This time, it is not her right knee.
“It’s in my left knee and basically my bone is deteriorating,” Rogers said. “It hurts, but I just have to play through it. I can’t practice. I just have to play in the games because the more that I run on it, the bigger the hole in my knee is going to get. So I just have been sitting out practices and playing in the games. It’s kind of hard to just jump in to a game when you haven’t been practicing. It’s difficult. I’m playing through it though.”
Rogers is more than playing through the pain. Leading her team in 3-pointer percentage (31.6) and second in points per game (11.4) as well as rebounds (6.1), Rogers is not simply toughing it out. Her impact and effort is being recognized by her fellow Urban Knights.
“I think it says a lot about her as a person and how much the sport means to her,” Academy of Arts coach LaNay Larson said. “Most people in her position would have taken the easy way out and given up but she continues to battle through. She doesn’t take for granted being able to play college basketball and has found a way to be successful and contribute without physically being 100 percent.
“I think the fact that she has played through her injury and done what she can to contribute makes her teammates realize her dedication level. She is focused when it comes to winning games and building this program to an elite level and I think that has been an attitude adopted by this team.”
With the season she’s having so far despite her injury, Rogers is still unsure as to how she is pulling it off.
“Shoot, I don’t know,” Rogers said while laughing. “I’m doing okay. I’m just playing through the injury right now. I need to get surgery on my knee, again, after the season. So right now I’m at about 50 percent, but I’m doing pretty well. I just try to keep my head in the game. I always just come out on the floor confident and I know that I am capable of getting off shots when the other team lets me, so that helps. Other than that, I’m just playing off of what I know from the past and having confidence in my game from my previous years of playing.”
Back from a road trip to Hawaii in which they swept all four games on the islands, the first time the feat has been completed in team history, the Urban Knights are currently 11-6 overall and 7-2 in the Pacific West Conference, putting them one game out of first place. Picked to finish fifth in the preseason, the Academy of Arts is having its best season in program history, already winning the same amount of games as all of last season. Larson said the play of Rogers has been vital to helping the Academy of Arts to its turnaround season.
“She is our best shooter and I always tell her she could take more shots. We are still working on that,” Larson said. “Her size and strength at the guard spot at this level gives her a definite advantage and she has been great on the boards. She’s a key part of our team’s success.”
It is not just the performance of Rogers on the court that is influencing her team.
“Jordan has had a big impact on this team as a player and also with changing the mentality,” Larson said. “Jordan came here to win championships and has elevated other people to that level also. She has a great basketball IQ. She really knows the game and that makes everyone around her better. You can never have enough players like that because it makes your job as a coach so much easier.”
Her grit and determination are not the only things that have proven crucial to Rogers’ success with the Urban Knights. Rogers transferred from the University of Pacific after two seasons with the Tigers and her ability to adjust and mesh with her new teammates has been important to getting off to a good start.
“When the season started off, we had a lot of new players and then a new coach, so we had a lot of learning to do,” Rogers said. “We’re doing great now though. We have six wins in a row right now and we’re second in conference, so it’s all coming together.”
Rogers said that it was a decision to chase her career dreams that brought about the change in programs.
“I decided to change my career path. I knew that I wanted to go to an art school so I was looking around online at different art schools that have basketball programs. My AAU coach knew the coach here at Academy of Arts and she wanted me to play so it kind of just worked out for me.”
So far, the switch in scenery has left Rogers with no regrets.
“I love it here,” Rogers said. “I wanted to major in fashion design, so being able to play and major in what I want to do is great. It’s the perfect combination. Living in San Francisco is great, too. I’ve always wanted to live in a city so I love it. It’s a lot of fun because there’s always something to do. Plus I love art and I love my major, so it’s not like I don’t like going to school. I enjoy it here. I love living in the city.
“I don’t miss home at all. I love it here. I don’t really like a small town, so I don’t miss that. I kind of miss not being as injured as I am now, but that’s about it. I feel like my game was a little better back when I was in high school and I don’t have as many injuries. So that part I do miss. Outside of that, I love where I am right now.”