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William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper

The Beacon

William Paterson University's Official Student-Run Newspaper

The Beacon

Volleyball coach Kevin Rogers reflects on 200-win milestone

Rogers, a New Jersey native, originally considered the marketing industry before getting into coaching.
Brooke Holzhauer
Rogers is a New Jersey native who began as a assistant soon after his playing days were over.

Want to know what it takes to become a winning coach? Look at William Paterson University women’s volleyball Coach Kevin Rogers for inspiration. He recently hit a combined 200-win milestone in both men’s and women’s volleyball having totaled 11 years as a head coach.

Tommy Sherwood: Tell me a little bit about yourself, your family or anything outside of volleyball?

Kevin Rogers: So I live with my wife and my dog. We’ve been married for a little over two years now. My dog’s name is champ. He is just a little mix of multiple things: pit, basset hound, maybe lab. So that’s it. I live in Long Branch, so I live pretty far. But I love the beach and it’s nice to be down there.

TS: What do you like to do outside of volleyball to clear your head or sharpen the saw blade, as many people say?

KR: So we had a tough loss against Ramapo on Tuesday. We ended up going five sets and that was a tough one. It was a conference game. So the next day, I just went to the beach in the morning just to kind of clear my head and relax a little bit and kind of just think of what can I do to shave off a few extra points from them and maybe get a couple extra points for us. So that way we can come out with a win next time we see them.

TS: Were you aware that you were sneaking up on that 200-win mile stone?

KR: I knew because last year I hit 100 wins as a women’s coach. So I kind of calculated, and I realized, Okay, I might be hitting 200 because when I was a men’s coach, I finished with 97 wins. So I knew the 200th was gonna come soon.

TS: Did you celebrate the win privately? Did you celebrate with the team coaches?

KR: No, I just was like, hey, it’s 200, it’s a cool number. The goal is for us to make the playoffs and hopefully, we’re playing our best ball by the end of the year. And we had to make an NCAA so that’s really all I’m focusing on. 200 wins is nice. It just kind of makes you reflect a little. Hey, this is it’s been a while since I’ve been coaching. But that was about it.

TS: What made you start coaching?

KR: Yeah, interesting. I didn’t originally plan on coaching at all. The goal was to graduate college and get a job with my marketing degree. But when I graduated, it was hard to even get an unpaid internship because it was during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. So I finished up my eligibility and the head coach told me, hey, I need an assistant,  do you want to do it? And I didn’t really even think about that. I said, yeah, why not? And I grew to love it. And I ended upjust thinking, Hey, can I make a career out of this? Just after talking to some friends and stuff I realized I could, here I am today.

TS: Who’s your biggest mentor?

KR: I have a couple but my old coach in college, Chris Feliciano. He’s now the head coach at University of New Hampshire. I’ve always chatted with him, and he’s always helped me out when it comes to the job interview process and even just how to deal with certain situations that might not be on the court, but maybe off the court issues. So he’s been really helpful to me.

TS: Yeah. What would you like people to know about D3 athletics?

KR: D3, I think it’s, it’s the perfect balance of being competitive and also being able to focus on your academics. I’ve coached at all levels, D1, D2, and D3. And I think that the players I’ve coached at the D3 level kind of get more opportunities from an academic and internship perspective. And that kind of sets them up a lot more for the future. Versus, D2, D1, you’re getting a lot more athletic aid, you’re expected to do a lot more with the team and that kind of constrains your ability to do some of those academic things that might be useful for you once you graduate. So that’s, that’s kind of what I feel is the great thing about D3.

TS: Okay, how did you discover the coaching opportunity at William Paterson and what made you choose to coach the William Paterson volleyball team?

Yeah. So, I grew up in Clifton, kind of, I went to high school and Clifton, and the coach that was here previously was here for, you know, 40 years. Coach Sandy. And this is the closest opportunity that I’ve had to be close to home and it just never opened up because she was here for so long. When it did, I looked at, you know, I’ve been on campus before. I love the campus. I love the gym. Our dorms are really nice. We’re very affordable. And a lot of those things attracted me to the school where I knew that we could end up truly competing for a championship if I put some work in, which I have had to do. So my first year we only had seven players. Last year was a real learning year, where we didn’t do as well but we were young. We were mostly freshmen and then this year, we have a good balance of freshmen and sophomores to kind of allow us to do a little bit better than last year.

TS: Tell me about your first win and how did that feel?

It’s good, maybe initially or you’re looking at your record because it is your first season as a coach and it’s like alright, I got in the win column. But that one is going to add up to 200 at some point in time. You never really think about that until you have to reflect. So after you do 20 interviews and you’re like, oh, man, I remember. Remember that first one that I did, or I remember that fifth one or whatever, and you start realizing how much better you’ve gotten after just getting some of that experience.

TS: What do you think are some key attributes to a successful volleyball team not just in this year but in years past all the other teams you’ve coached?

Yeah, I think, um, buy-in for the team is really important. It’s one thing to say hey, I want to compete for a championship, but the players also have to believe that and you also have to come up with a plan of how you’re going to do that. So I think that’s the biggest thing that I’ve kind of taken away as a coach of, of how we can be successful, and just a lot of it is belief and working with that belief that you have.

TS: So, what do you do to ensure that your athletes are successful in the classroom as much as they are in the volleyball court?

I’m fortunate to have a really good group of kids that are pretty disciplined in the classroom. I check in with their professors to make sure they’re just getting their assignments in. I always give a speech at the beginning of the year, just telling them like, if you, as long as you go to class, and you do all the assignments on time, you will do well, and I think most of our players have done that. And if I’ve gotten any reports about players not [doing well] that’s usually when I’ll get on them. But it’s been great being here because a lot of the professors want their students to do well, too. So it’s nice to kind of have that relationship with their teachers, so we can make sure that they’re as successful as possible.

TS: Is there anything else that you want people to know about you?

I think for me, I  want my players to succeed not only on the court, but also, you know, in life. I think that’s really what brings me a lot of joy and coaching is seeing their progression from 18 when they come into 21 when they graduate, and see, and hoping that some of the things that I’ve taught them have made them grow as a person and have helped them hopefully become successful after school. So, that’s about it.

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