Hard work pays off for Rogers

Richmond Kajaks standout earns full-ride scholarship to University of California Berekeley

Richard Collier must be smiling down on one of his prize students.
The immensely popular coach with the Richmond Kajaks track and field club, who passed away just less than a year ago, touched the lives of so many.
Among them is Camryn Rogers who vividly recollected the day she met him.
“It was January 5, 2012 at 5 p.m.,” smiled the personable 17-year-old. “He pointed me towards a hammer and asked me to throw it. I had no clue how to do it but he showed me. My first throw actually wasn’t that bad and my interest was piqued. Everything changed that day.
“Richard had a spirit about him. He was so energetic and very passionate. He definitely loved what he was doing and knew it so well. For me personally, he made the event beautiful and that was something I had never really experienced before.”
Rogers would never look back.
Over the next three years she would blossom into one of the top young throwers in the country — specializing in the hammer but thriving in shot put too. Collier also made sure all her energy wasn’t being spent on preparing for competitions.
“He changed my entire mentality,” Rogers continued. “I was not as focused on school until he kept asking me about it all the time in training. The hard work I put into training transferred over to school as well. He just helped me with so many areas of my life.”
Rogers’ excellence in athletics and in the classroom has added up to a dream opportunity for the next chapter of her life.
She has accepted a lucrative full-ride scholarship offer to the University of California Berkeley. When the Grade 12 student at RA McMath signed her National Letter of Intent on Nov. 9, she was joined by her current coach — Collier’s son Garrett. Fittingly a framed photo of herself with Richard sat on the desk beside them.
Rogers is following the footsteps of another Collier protege from Richmond. Four-time Canadian champion and Commonwealth Games silver medalist Jennifer Joyce headed to Cal Berekley back in 1999. However, Rogers didn’t know she was going to be a Golden Bear until a month ago.
As she continued to excel at meets north and south of the border, Rogers realized the opportunity to earn a scholarship to an NCAA Division One school was attainable.
“I had always heard of the support in the U.S. for university sports,” she said. “I thought it was so cool and figured I would be heading down south but I had no clue where. It was nice that I was able to talk to a number of people from B.C. who had gone down about their experience.”
By September of her Grade 11 year, Rogers started to get messages from interested schools across the U.S. via Facebook. The inquires continued over the next several months and her stock soared further when she achieved the qualifying standard for the IAAF World U20 Track and Field Championships in the hammer throw.
She backed up her personal best toss by winning the junior hammer and shot put events at the Canadian Championships in Edmonton in early July. She was back home briefly, packing her bags for the Worlds in Poland, when Cal Berekley throws coach Mohamad Saatara reached out her.
“I was very excited,” Rogers recalled. “I had heard a lot about the school in the throwing community. I knew they had a good coach, a good facility and it was an all-around great atmosphere. As I kept getting more information from coach Saatara the more real it became.”
Still, Rogers wasn’t going to rule out the schools that had been pursuing her since the beginning. Back in September, she made an official visit to the the University of Minnesota.
“I have talked to people who have made one visit to a school and either signed or made a verbal commitment (before leaving),” said Rogers. “(Minnesota) was hoping I would give mine but I had already told them I was going to try and take as many visits as I could.”
Just over a month later, she headed down to Cal Berekley where the Pac 12 school, with an outstanding academic reputation, more than lived up to her expectations. Rogers stayed on campus and met team members from around the world. Among them was Finnish discus thrower Ilse Kaaj and freshman sprinter Zion Corrales Nelson from Burnaby.
This time, she made a verbal commitment when she met with coaches over breakfast prior to her departure.
“Of course the school is insane and beautiful. Garrett has also known the coach for a long time so the transition is going to be good. But what definitely got me were the people. Everyone was so welcoming and I felt very included. It’s really a bunch of people that are focused and want to do well. That is the atmosphere,” said Rogers.
Accompanying her for both trips down was her mom Shari who has raised Camyrn by herself since she was three.
Shari is an avid distance runner whose friends encouraged her to bring Camyrn out to a Kajaks practice years earlier. It has been an significant commitment since, providing loving support as her daughter bloomed into a world class athlete.
“My mom is my everything. She is my rock,” grinned Rogers. “She has been there to wipe my tears and pick me off the ground after a hard training session, especially last year with trying to qualify for the Worlds and Richard passing away.
“I don’t know how she does it. My schedule can get pretty crazy, especially during competition season and she’s right there with me. It’s just been us and she has done everything. I appreciate it all and she has made me who I am.”
Rogers was further reminded of her outstanding year by being named 2016 Youth Female Track and Field Athlete of the Year at the B.C. Athletics banquet. Earlier, the Kajaks presented her with three more major awards.
Her goals in 2017 include qualifying for Junior Pan Ams in Peru and the Canada Summer Games. She also can enjoy the last few months of high school, knowing where she is headed next fall.
“The entire process was very exciting but I’m definitely more relaxed now,” she laughed. “I am pumped for next year and plan to fully enjoy my Grade 12 year.”

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