Celebrating Women’s History: Sister Act 2 in women’s hoops…

WSU Sports Information
By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
After spending several years on the hardwood during their prep basketball years at Lansing Everett High School and their collegiate years at Wayne State University, Kristen and Nicole Rogers are still involved in the game they loved and grew up on. Kristen, who spent three seasons as an assistant coach at Wayne State University  from 2008-2011, is now a full-time assistant at Northern Michigan University in Marquette under current Head Coach Troy Mattson, and Nicole is now in her third season as a part-time assistant at Madonna University in Livonia just outside Detroit. Both girls grew up on the game.
Photo credit: NMU Sports Information
The love of the game started with the older sister Kristen who played the game most of her life. She played in the Lansing-area Junior Pro League in her pre-junior high years.
Kristen played at Everett High School from 1998-2001 playing at the guard position. With help from Head Coach Johnny Jones, Kristen helped the Lady Vikings win three straight Capital Area Athletic Conference Basketball titles in 1999. 2000 and 200l. She also helped them win back-to-back MHSAA Class A State Titles in 2000 and 2001. As a senior she averaged 5.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game. The Vikings compiled an 81-3 record while Kristen was playing.
Photo credit: Madonna University Athletic Department
“My high school career was unbelievable because I had the chance to play on some great teams,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a greater experience.
“Coach Jones and his staff really helped me to play at the next level because they instilled into me a great work ethic. I felt I was a step ahead of other freshman in my class because of how Coach Jones ran our program at Everett.”
Kristen went onto Wayne State and played under former Head Coach Gloria Bradley from 2002-06 leaving her mark on the court and in the classroom. As a player at the guard position, Kristen started in 94 games, pulled down 348 rebounds and 275 assists. She’s 15th on the all-time women’s scoring list with 1,056 points, second in three-pointers made (171), second in free throw percentage (.837), third in minutes played (3,086), and fifth in steals (206).
“I chose WSU because I felt comfortable with Coach Bradley,” she explained. “I also enjoyed the team, the campus and the academic programs.
Kristen dribbling for Wayne State Warriors. 
Photo credit:  WSU Sports Information
“Another factor was that WSU played an up-tempo game similar to the one I played in high school.”
During her senior year at WSU, Kristen led the Warriors in assists (85) and three-pointers made (47). Her stats by season were 7.9 points per game, 43 assists, 37 steals and three blocks (2002-03), 9.7 ppg., 62 assists, 50 steals and four blocks (2003-04), 10.8 ppg., 68 assists, 57 steals and nine blocks (2004-05), and 10.5 ppg., 85 assists and 59 steals. (2005-06).
“I had a great experience playing at WSU,” she said.  “My most memorable experience was starting as a freshman on a team that made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the school’s history. My other accomplishment included being All-GLIAC and scoring over 1,000 points in my career.
“Coach Bradley helped me grow not only as a player, but as a person. I was challenged to do some things that were outside my comfort zone and as a result I became a more confident and more successful player. I will remember the relationships I had with my coaches and my teammates because they helped me be a better person.”
Rogers became a student assistant under Bradley upon finishing her playing career at WSU Getting adjusted to coaching wasn’t a problem because she played under the woman that recruited and coach her.
“I can’t thank her enough for the opportunity she gave me not only to play for her, but to join her coaching staff,” she said.  “I couldn’t have asked for a better situation because it was extremely beneficial to start in a program that I played for because I was familiar with the program.
“She exposed me to a lot of different areas of the job and it has made me a lot more knowledgeable. Most of all she has helped instill into me how you need to work to successful. Coach Bradley has been and will continue to be a great mentor for me.”
Coach Bradley or any of her staff wasn’t resigned by WSU after the 2011 season and Rogers went onto NMU to work as a full-time assistant under Mattson this season.
“I love coaching and was disappointed by the way things ended at WSU,” she said. “I was very fortunate that he NMU opportunity came about. I went through a couple of interviews and Coach Bradley contacted him on my behalf. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation.
“I knew Coach Mattson from my playing and coaching days at WSU. I have familiarity with the GLIAC and my parents are able to get to games. Working for Coach Mattson has continued to make me a better coach.”
Nicole, on the other hand, didn’t get hitched to the game until she was about 10 years old.
“I always saw her (Kristen) play,” Nicole said “My height got me into it (she’s 5-10). It (basketball) just grew on me.”
Nicole played at Everett on the junior varsity from 2000-2001 and the varsity from 2001-2003. She played with her sister on the 2001 squad that won the MHSAA Girls Class A Basketball Title.
“After playing on the junior varsity team my sophomore year I was promoted to the varsity when the state playoffs started,” Nicole said. “It meant a lot more when I knew I was going to play with my sister.
“When we won the state title, Kristen was a senior and that was a great way to see her go out.”
Nicole also made her name known at Lansing Everett.  As team captain her senior year, Nicole led her team in rebounding, steals, assists, and blocks  averaging  8.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. She was led the Lady Vikings to two CAAC (Capital Area Athletic Conference) Titles while helping her team make the state regional final her junior year and the state district final her senior year. Besides earning two letters in varsity basketball, she was also all-CAAC in basketball and academics.
When it came to college she followed her sister, but there was more to WSU than playing with her sister.
“Wayne State had a lot to choose from and my sister was already there,” Nicole said.”It was a bonus to have my sister playing for them.
“I knew the people there already because I would attend the games with my parents when I watched my sister play. I also knew the players and I was able to make the big transition from high school to college ball.”
Nicole started in 70 games for the Warriors. She was only the second WSU women’s player to leading the team in rebounding three straight seasons. She currently ranks fifth in all-time rebounds with 633.
Her stats by season were 132 rebounds, 28 steals, 20 assists  and nine blocks averaging 6.6 points per game her freshman year (2004-05), 159 rebounds, 38 steals, 38 assists, and eight blocks averaging 6.6 ppg her sophomore years (2005-06), 186 rebounds, 47 steals, 38 assists, and seven blocks averaging 8.3 ppg her junior year (2006-07) and 148 rebounds, 31 assists, 24 steals and six blocks averaging 5.3 ppg her senior year (2007-08).
During her last two years she played under her sister Kristen who was an assistant coach to Bradley  at the time. She explained it was strange at first, but it later became a very good learning experience.
“It was kind of strange with my sister being a coach, but things worked out,”  Nicole said. “It was a great experience to work with her because we always played together growing up Lansing.”
After graduating from WSU, Nicole found full-time employment with Bank of America, but couldn’t keep away from the game she loved and shared with her sister. She landed a part-time assistants job at Madonna University under Head Coach Carl Graves. She went to Madonna to apply for an assistant coaching job because she was familiar with the campus, the players, the team, and especially Coach Graves.
“When I played at WSU Kristen and I would play open gym during the summer at Madonna, “ Nicole explained. “Women players from all over the state would come to the campus to play.
“That when I met Coach Graves. He knew I was interested in being a coach and organized an interview after I finished playing at WSU. He was also familiar with me as a player because we played against Madonna while I was at WSU. I did get the job as a part-time assistant. Although I’m working part-time, my next goal is to be a full-time assistant at Wayne State, Detroit Mercy, Marygrove College, Michigan-Dearborn or any college in the state. I would mind coaching at any state junior college.
 “A couple of times I coached against Kristen when she was at Wayne State. My parents were at both games and it was a different experience when I was used to play on the same team with her in college and high school.”
“It was a great experience to coach against my sister,” Kristen said. “It’s something that we will remember for a long time. It doesn’t happen often and I’m glad we had the opportunity while I was at WSU.
“It was a unique experience for me and my family because obviously only one of us was going to win, so there was going to be some disappointment.”
Graves said he’s glad to have the younger Rogers aboard to help his team and give guidance to the young lady’s at the Livonia institution.
“We did play against her and her sister  when they played for WSU and both of them were very hard workers.” He explained Nicole brings the same fire she had a WSU to our team.
“Nicole does a lot for us especially with our post players. She also conducts and runs our study table for our team. Our overall team average is a 3.6 honor point average. Because of Nicole our squad was the academic team of the year last season on campus.Her parents come out to see her coach. They’re very supportive of Nicole even when she was a player.
“Nicole is phenomenal as a coach because she’s a natural leader and is a great addition to the staff. She’ll make a great head coach because of her work ethic.”
This was printed in the February 26, 2012 – March 10, 2012 Edition