Senior Alexa Rogers (above, running between Jordan White, left, and Louise Hannallah) earned Southeastern Conference Athlete of the Week honors after leading VU to a second-place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Rogers discussed her game with SID Ashley Crosby for Commodore Nation:
On getting into running:
"I originally was a soccer player, but once I got to high school they told me I was too small to play and that eventually I would get hurt. So my friend asked me to go to cross country camp with her, and from then on I just fell in love with the sport. Running has changed my life for the better. It has taught me patience, discipline, teamwork and dedication."
On what influenced her to come to Vanderbilt:
"Honestly, it was everything. I was dead set on staying in Colorado, but when I visited here I fell in love with the coaching staff, the team and the academics."
On this year's freshmen:
"The freshmen are so talented. They are smashing all of our times just as freshmen! I can't wait to see what they evolve into these next couple of years. They are not only talented and dedicated, but they are also very lively and fun."
On her friendship with teammates Jordan White and Louise Hannallah:
"Oh my goodness, I love these girls more than anything. They are my best friends, and we have been best friends since the first day we met each other four years ago. Over the past four years we have gone through a lot together--we have leaned on one another and pushed each other all along. We have this unspoken bond on and off the course--on the course, it's really cool to watch because we make room for each other and signal each other to follow through hand signals. Each of us has a strength, and we all feed off of one another to make us a force."
On her inspirations:
"On the team my biggest inspiration has been Jordan and Louise. They are both so dedicated to this sport. Jordan has demonstrated strength and courage by quickly overcoming an injury at the beginning of the season. She is fearless. Louise has demonstrated leadership on and off the course and whips me into shape by leading core exercises. Also, Kara Slavoski has been a big inspiration to me because she also overcame an injury from this summer with so much poise, class and grace. In life, my biggest inspiration is my sister, Natosha Rogers. She is the most balanced person I have ever met. She absolutely loves life. She has taught me to love every step of my life no matter what the situation is."
On being a senior and team leader:
"It is so fun to be a senior and see the excitement of the younger girls. I try to lead by example. All of my favorite leaders--like Tim Tebow, Michael Jordan and my sister Natosha--all led by example, so I try to mimic that. It's all about demonstrating a passion, a will and a drive to overcome obstacles and keep chasing your dreams."
On her breakout season:
"I attribute our success this season to two sources. The first one is God--He has helped me so much through injuries and through life in general. If it weren't for Him, I would be nobody. The other source is the team. Every single girl came into this season with a will to achieve our team goal of making it to Nationals. This mutual goal, will and drive have held me accountable and have pushed me to get through some really tough workouts."
On the "synergy" of this year's team:
"Like I mentioned before--this is the first time our team has all had the same goal of making it to Nationals and the same commitment level to achieve that goal. Since each of us wants it for each other and for ourselves, the team has really pulled together by loving one another, supporting one another and pushing one another. The process of getting to this point has required hard work, but it's been beautiful."
On who she can count on for a laugh or a push:
"The people who can always make me laugh are Kristen Findley and Cat Diethelm because they say what's on their mind and let loose. Louise and Jordan definitely push me the hardest. They have a way of pulling me when I am weak physically and motivating me when I am down emotionally."
On her favorite class and being a student athlete:
"My favorite class is my leadership and development class. I am so intrigued with the many types of leadership styles and love to learn why certain people can lead and what to do to become a better leader. Being a student-athlete here can be hard sometimes, given the school's workload, but it's definitely manageable."
On pre-meet superstitions:
"I don't have superstitions, but I do have a pre-meet routine, which is straightening my hair and wearing ribbons."
On the coaches:
"Both Coach Keith and Coach Riley are amazing people. They are both so supportive and accommodating. They understand that school plays a huge part in our lives and allow us to take a day off if school is stressing us out too much. They also care about us as people, not just athletes. There have been many times where I have opened up to them about personal things, and they have helped me through them. I love them both very much. Also, our athletic trainer, David Jennings, has been an amazing blessing on this team. He has dedicated so much of his time and effort to making us better. I have chronic lower leg problems, and there were many times where I thought things wouldn't get better, but he pushed me and found ways to help get through it."