March 18, 2012

Adair’s Rogers stepping aside

The End of an Era

March 18, 2012 Sports Editor Terrell Lester

After leading the county’s most successful boys basketball team over the last two decades, Adair coach Brad Rogers is retiring.

The 44-year-old Rogers is trimming his workload.

He will continue to serve as the director of high school athletics and as the principal of the middle school.

He said that no decision has been reached on his successor.

Rogers leaves an enviable basketball legacy.

In 21 seasons as head coach, he won 68 percent of his games, finishing with 371 victories, 173 losses. Ten times his team won 20 games or more.

His teams reached the state tournament five times, and once reached the championship game. They won 11 conference championships.

“It’s been a tremendous run,” he said the other day.

“Other than winning a championship, I achieved a lot of what I wanted to do in coaching.”

Proof of that can be found among the plaques, the awards, the trophies that dominate trophy space and wall space in the fieldhouse on the Adair campus.

He coached in the 2000 All-State basketball game.

He coached in the 2007 Faith 7 Bowl that pits the best from Oklahoma and Texas.

“I still love it. Enjoy it. But I’ve been around it enough where I’m not going to miss it. I’m almost positive I’m not going to miss it a bit,” he said.

“I’ve stayed in it long enough to get my fill. But I didn’t stay too long to get soured on it.”

Adair has been his only coaching stop.

“I’ve never had a desire to ao anywhere else,” he said.

After graduating from Kansas in 1985, where he played basketball — “I wish I would have played football in high school, just to have that experience” — Rogers went to Northeastern State. His internship was spent at Grove, and he applied for a position at Adair.

He was passed over for a coach with more experience. But when that arrangement failed to materialize, Rogers received a second call from Adair.

He turned out to be the perfect fit.

He worked as an assistant for two seasons under girls coach Clifton Collins. That was in the six-on-six days.

Then he inherited the boys job when Tom Linihan resigned to devoted full time to administration. Linihan is now the Adair superintendent.

In Rogers’ first season as head coach, his team finished 1-21.

“I asked myself every day, ‘What have I got myself into?’ Clifton’s over there and his girls are like 25-0 and here I am 1-21,” Rogers said.

“A year like that will humble you,” he said.

He stayed the course. Adair supported him. And the next year, Rogers won eight games. Nine the next year.

There have been only two sub-.500 seasons since that slow start.

Along the way, Rogers has also coached baseball (”I was horrendous,” he says) and football (he was offensive coordinator for some 10 years under Russell Kruse).

For the last four years, Rogers has overseen all sports at Adair as director of athletics. He is pleased, even excited, with the success those teams have enjoyed during this school year.

He points to the softball team winning a district title. The football team was 10-0, also winning a district championship. The cross country team placed fourth at state. The girls basketballers reached state for the seventh consecutive year.

In his role as middle school principal over the last five years, Rogers sees a correlation with coaching.

“Your relationship with your kids, dealing with kids, that’s the same,” he said. “The biggest difference is age.

“I deal with a select few in basketball. In this office, I deal with 250.

“Getting (middle school) kids through bad days is like getting a kid through a bad practice. Patting them on the back when they need it, or kicking them in the hind-end when they need that, also.”

Rogers, an affable sort with a quick smile, is not walking away from an empty cupboard.

Three full-time players — guard Brady Bradbury, forward Jordan Fleming, post Hunter Neighbors — will return next season from his 22-6 team.

Some might expect Rogers’ successor to be his 12-year assistant Travis Cannady.

“Over the last few seasons, Travis’ role has really increased,” Rogers said.

“For the last three or four years, he’s done all of our defense. The last two years, he’s done 100 percent of our scouting.”

And for the last 21 seasons, Brad Rogers has been in charge of a program without county peer.

“A good run,” he says.

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