ARMSTRONG — Wade Rogers had visions of this day when he was a youngster watching Armstrong Township High School basketball.
“I remember being a little kid going to Armstrong games. Armstrong used to be successful,” he said.
“I dreamed of one day being the Armstrong head coach. My superintendent, Bill Mulvaney, was the head coach. I thought it would be a thrill to be the head coach at Armstrong to bring success back here.”
The 2013 Armstrong graduate who played for the Trojans has been named the school’s head coach.
It’s been a rapid rise for him.
This marks Rogers’ third year coaching the Trojans. He started as a volunteer assistant two years ago, then was named JV coach last year.
“We started out kinda slow, but we ended the year rolling, playing extremely good defense, really uptempo,” Rogers said. “You could see the drastic changes day by day.”
He attributes that to “grinding every day in practice.”
The players started to realize when they got down by 10 points, not to look at the scoreboard but to get a stop and then score.
“You can only control that thing,” Rogers said. “I think they truly understood that.”
The Trojans were a young team on varsity last season -— graduating only Dylan Knight and Jonathan Hudson. There will be four seniors this season if everyone comes out.
A group of freshmen from Potomac who went to the state tournament will be coming in. He hopes they will mesh well with the returning players to start a turnaround in the team’s success.
As for his style of play, Rogers likes to keep things moving on offense.
“We’re pretty small. Obviously we’re not trying to slow the game down,” he said. “I’m a big defensive guy. I think your best offense can be your defense. I like to run team basketball.”
Practices under Rogers aren’t easy. He said taking care of business and working hard in practice makes games easier.
And he likes to get after it from the sidelines.
“I’m really passionate, and I try to show that to my players,” he said. “Some people don’t like that. I try to view myself as a sixth man on defense. I try to help them however I can to act like another defender on the floor.
“The kids like that. They see if I can get fired up, it gives them a reason to get fired up.”
Rogers, who lives in Gifford, teaches physical education at Armstrong. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Eastern Illinois University and is working toward a master’s degree in sport administration from Gonzaga.