Keaton Rodgers can speak a thing or two about transition. The former Sandra Day O’Connor athlete is now in his sophomore year at Central College, a Division III school in Pella, Iowa.
Rodgers plays under head coach Craig Douma and is looking to follow up a freshman season that wasn’t the easiest for him. He thanks his teammates for opening up and helping him connect.
“The transition was a bit tough,” Rodgers said. “My first semester I was a little lonely, a little secluded and I didn’t really want to reach out. Once I got involved with the team, they took me in and I became one of them, and it’s been awesome since then.”
Rodgers averaged 6.5 points and four rebounds per game last season. Central College played its first home game on Feb. 6.
Quoted as “what most people don’t know” about his new team, the Dutch have spent two and half weeks together in quarantine to prepare for the season. Rodgers said he believes the time together bodes well for this season.
“That always brings the team together.” Rodgers said.
“We are all hungry. We want to play. And at the end of the day, that’s what we all want.”
Rodgers inherited that hunger from his time in Peoria playing for head coach Andra Rogers at Sandra Day O’Connor High School. His first three years playing for the Eagles was under the mentorship and leadership of former head coach Matt King, who now serves as the chief operating officer at Position Sports.
Rodgers credits coach King for the team’s involvement off the court and mentoring Rogers as his assistant coach during coach King’s tenure with the Eagles.
The team went to the local Christ Church of the Valley (CCV) in Peoria and helped coach the kids, lead basketball camps, run drills and show support for its community. There were opportunities to assist the youth with special needs, as well.
Rodgers feels CCV impacted him as a player.
“We would help out two or three times a season. Matt King was a representative of CCV, and we would go there and help out with camps and everything.”
The community in Peoria meant a lot to Rodgers. He explained the value of having fans at games, and what that meant to him then and now.
“It meant a lot to me then — it means even more to me now,” Rodgers said about the fans at Sandra Day O’Connor.
“I miss being able to go to our rival game against Mountain Ridge. I think those games were the most fun to play and the people were there for you and for your school. (We had the opportunity) to represent the name on our jersey.”
Rodgers is grateful he has the time to reflect on the importance of Sandra Day O’Connor fans.
His current team, though, will have to overcome a season of uncertainty, and Rodgers must show the resiliency that his coaches taught him in his time as an Eagle.