The Coach, the Mentor, the Man

Coach Darron L. Rogers Sr.

The odds were stacked against him because of his environment. Growing up in Dixie Hills off Simpson Road in the late 70s with five other siblings made life even harder. Nevertheless, Coach Darron L. Rogers Sr. beat the odds one day at a time.

“I was raised pretty much in a single-parent home. My father wasn’t there a lot of the time. My mother was my hero. I saw her struggle and sacrifice so much for my brothers and my sister. She sacrificed for me to play basketball and football, and my drive to make her proud has had a lot to do with my success,” Rogers says.

The success that Rogers is referring to is being a Championship Basketball Coach of the Westlake High School Varsity Boys Basketball Team. Coach Rogers has been teaching in the Fulton County School System for 34 years. He has coached basketball at Westlake for 27 years and served as head basketball coach for 22 years. He has truly put in his time.

Under Rogers’ leadership, the Westlake Lions won the 1999 Boys 3A State High School Basketball Championship after having an undefeated season with 33 consecutive wins. In 2006, the team went 32-0 and lost in the Boys 5A State High School Basketball Championship game, unable to tie the previous record, but that was no failure for Coach Rogers and his team, because of the lessons learned along the way. One of the most important messages Rogers teaches his players is to get an education.

“Education is key toward advancing in everything you do. I came out of the projects and graduated from Morehouse College. The preparation I received on the high school level prepared me to excel at Morehouse,” Rogers says.

He further explained that nobody expected him to do well at Turner High School, much less graduate from Morehouse College. Regardless, he not only excelled academically but athletically as well, attending Morehouse on a football scholarship.

“I saw many of my friends during our teenage years drop out of school or go to jail, and going to college wasn’t an option for some, but it was for me,” Rogers says.

Rogers credits his high school football and basketball coaches for giving him the support and encouragement he needed from strong African-American men. His coaches mentored him and protected him from his environment.

“My coaches didn’t tolerate drug use, gang stuff or fighting,” says Rogers, who lettered in both basketball and football. “To put it mildly, they didn’t play! If your grades weren’t good, you didn’t play either!”

Rogers operates his teams with the same philosophy. He sets a good example for students and players as a Christian man with a strong faith. He attends Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, where the pastor is Rev. R. A. Spann. Rogers also credits his spiritual mentor, Reverend James H. Sims, for many of his successes. Rogers has been married to Jacquelyn D. Rogers for 35 years; they have two kids: Darron L. Rogers Jr. and Ashley N. Rogers.

Rogers first came to Westlake in 1996 after having amazing success coaching at Camp Creek Middle School, where he coached his team to win basketball championships in 1988 and 1990. He made sure his players trained year-round by encouraging them to play in the recreation league at Welcome All Park, where he won two championships in the league.

“I got the head boys basketball coaching job at Westlake when the legendary Rusty Hudson retired,” says Rogers. “He was a winning coach with two championships as the Head Varsity Boys Basketball Coach under his belt. I knew I had some big shoes to fill.”

Throughout his career, Rogers has won 504 games and lost 130 games. He excels not just in coaching but in the classroom. He is the recipient of several awards, including the 1996 Teacher of the Year Award at Westlake, State of Georgia High School Basketball Coach of the Year in 1999, the Fulton County Physical Educator in 2000, the nine-time Regional Basketball Coach of the Year, the Morehouse College Milestone Award in 2005 and the Atlanta Journal Constitution Coach of the Year Award last year.

While his accolades are stacked high, Rogers says the biggest highlight of his career was when Westlake won the state championship with his son Darron Jr. playing on the team.

“My son and this group of young men clearly learned what it meant to work hard in the classroom and on the court,” notes Rogers.

It is without a doubt that Rogers is passionate about his job. He says he loves coaching so much if he didn’t have to pay off his bills, he would coach for free. Rogers shared that young men today need support and guidance from men who set good examples in all aspects of life.

“I teach my students and players academics come first and sports come second. I tell them they must avoid taking the easy route and work harder than the next person day by day,” shares Rogers.

Rogers’ formula for the game of life and the game of basketball is a winning success!