If you asked most Penn students if they really enjoyed their toughest Pottruck workouts, the answer would probably be no. Hard runs or the dreaded leg days are often the things that — despite being sometimes necessary — they dread the most.
Calvary Rogers, freshman track phenom, on the other hand, relishes the opportunity to have his coaches push him every day in practice.
“It’s an amazing feeling going to practice every day,” the Rochester, N.Y., native said. “Even though it’s a really hard work out sometimes, I walk out and say I did something to improve an area of my life that God has given me.”
It’s this passion and drive to improve himself and the world around him that guides Rogers in everything he does — from the track to the classroom to his Penn student government meetings.
When Rogers first arrived at Penn this fall, his coaches knew that he was a talented sprinter, but even they weren’t expecting him to contribute as much as he has to Penn track and field.
“When he got here, he just had way more speed than we thought he did, which is kind of a fun surprise,” coach Robin Martin said. “He did a lot of work to really develop that speed, and one of the most exciting things for us as a coaching staff is helping him make that [natural speed] work in his events.”
Before long, Rogers was turning heads of coaches and teammates alike, breaking records in the 200- and 400-meter sprints, his primary events.
And these performances didn’t come as a surprise to just the coaching staff.
“I shock myself every single meet to be honest with you,” Rogers said.
After improving throughout the indoor season, during Indoor Heps, Rogers notched the second-best 200m indoor time in Penn history with a 20.58 but narrowly missed out on first place by .02 seconds.
Despite his incredibly competitive nature, Rogers believes that this loss taught him much more than a win could have.
“I definitely needed to lose that race. I hate losing but that taught me that I still have a lot to learn.”
His improvement this outdoor season shows how much he has taken that second-place finish to heart. At the Florida Relays earlier this month, Rogers ran a 20.95 200m, which not only placed him 3rd all time in the Penn record books but smashed his previous personal record of 21.52.
“Cal is kind of in some unchartered territory for Penn track and field runners,” Martin said. “You just don’t see elite-level sprinting, and Calvary is one of the 10 fastest freshmen in the country.”
And not only is Rogers showing incredible prowess on the track. In fact, his engagements off the track are equally impressive.
Rogers serves the Vice President for External Affairs for the 2019 Class Board and is an Undergraduate Assembly representative for the College. He says his decision to run was an easy one as he cares deeply about the school and wanted to gives athletes a voice.
Aside from student government, his social activism is also apparent in his work with the Penn Against Gun Violence club, which he co-founded.
The leadership and compassion he exhibits in these endeavors also translates to the track. When asked what Rogers contributes most to Penn track, Martin paused before saying “character” confidently.
“That’s kind of odd to say for someone with his talent level but ... I think its easy especially as an athlete to get really myopic in the way you view the world, and that’s just not part of Cal’s make-up.
“I think he’s really just a citizen of the world and to have leaders like that on the team is really important. This is a really formative four years for athletes and students and to have leaders like Cal around is really helpful for the team to see that people are thinking about things bigger than themselves.
On the track, Martin stressed that the best of Rogers is yet to come. And Rogers has his goals set high goals for himself including winning Ivies, setting school records, and hopefully one day competing for Team USA.
“Not a week goes by where he doesn’t ask me about some technical element or another and how he can improve on that or if he can come in in the morning and do extra work,” Martin said.
At the end of the day though, “He’s really really fast and that is cool, but there’s so much more to Calvary that makes him really special.”
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