Alumni Check-In: Shawnta Rogers
GW Athletic Hall of Famer making a difference in hometown
GW Men's Basketball Alumni Weekend is set for Aug. 4 & 5. Alumni can register for the weekend and fans can sign up for tickets to Sunday's game by clicking here.
By Eric Detweiler, GW Athletics CommunicationsIf you wanted to find young Shawnta Rogers, you checked Cecil Kirk Recreation Center first.
The boy was drawn there by basketball, of course. He knew he needed to drill his sport of choice each day after school – and any other free moment, really – to stay on the path to a college scholarship and eventually a pro career.
Looking back, Rogers can see the value of the place to his life stretched well beyond the East Baltimore rec center’s familiar hardwood, though.
The support of his Cecil Kirk coach Anthony Lewis and many others there kept Rogers from getting swallowed by the trouble always lurking in the streets just steps away.
“A lot of youth today don’t have a place like that,” Rogers said. “It’s so important to have some type of motivation to do well in sports and in school like we had when I was growing up.”
Years removed from a decorated GW hoops career and a successful pro run in Europe, Rogers relishes the chance to make that kind of difference for the next generation in his hometown.
The Colonial point guard remembered for his undersized stature and gigantic game said childhood memories of Cecil Kirk and a sociology degree from GW fuel his work with Maryland Independent Living Services, a state-funded program designed to help youth transition from foster care into living on their own.
“When you’re helping the kids out, it’s just a wonderful thing,” said Rogers, who was inducted into the GW Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012 in recognition of his program records for assists (634) and steals (310) that still stand. “You might not be able to reach all of them, but even the ones that don’t get it, they’ll realize later on in life that we were trying to help them and put them in the right direction to be successful.”
These days, Rogers, 42, splits his time between Baltimore and Indian Land, S.C., the Charlotte, N.C. suburb where he bought a house during his pro career, which spanned a decade with stops in France, Italy and Belgium.
He’s stayed active in basketball through his Make It Ezee training company that has clients in both Maryland and South Carolina and as an organizer of events and showcases for high school and college teams. He also served as an assistant for his son Darnell’s AAU and high school teams and has aspirations of returning to the sideline again soon.
Rogers will often take the teens he works with through the independent living program to the basketball court as a means to get to know them better, but the main focus is on teaching life skills for the real world like how to search for a job or manage a bank account.
He started at GW as an accounting major with dreams of a post-playing career in business but ended up following his passion for helping people into sociology.
After years of chasing his hoop dreams in faraway places, he’s glad to be able to do his part to give back to the community that’s always been close to his heart.
“This was needed,” Rogers said. “I’ve been around here for a long time, I grew up here, and it’s basically just what this city needed.”
More time in Baltimore also means more chances to connect with his alma mater. He attended last year’s Alumni Weekend, where he was honored with the program’s Hustle (Grit and Glue) Award named after him.
Most important, Rogers was a member of the winning Blue team that took a memorable back-and-forth alumni game in double overtime.
“I definitely still feel good about my game,” Rogers said with a chuckle. “It needs a little tweaking, a little sharpening up, but I got the win (last year), so you know I was happy with that.”
Rogers is excited to put those bragging rights on the line again next month when the former Colonials get together at Smith Center once again.
“I bleed that Buff and Blue, so it’s wonderful for me,” Rogers said. “We have fun with it. I think this year it will probably be even more fun if even more guys get to come out and enjoy themselves.
We’re one big family, and we need to stay connected to each other and stay connected to the new guys that are coming along.”
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