Chloe Rogers, a senior dietetics major at Lipscomb, recounts it like it was yesterday.
A senior at Blue Valley High School in Stillwell, Kansas at the time, Rogers says she remembers deciding to hang up her softball glove for good to pursue her dream of playing volleyball in college.
“I played both sports my whole life, but figured there would be more opportunity to play volleyball in college,” said Rogers.
A difficult decision at the time, Rogers knew her heart was leading her to play volleyball. So she started looking at schools. At the time, both her club coach and former club teammate Lauren Ford (’15) had ties to Lipscomb. Ford, who was a standout player on the Lipscomb volleyball team, told Rogers that she would be a perfect fit for the powerhouse program that was known for its intentional family atmosphere, and would enjoy playing for head coach Brandon Rosenthal.
“Lauren told me the girls were awesome, but I didn’t learn this for myself until my appendix ruptured my senior year of high school, and I was in the hospital for a week. I remember getting a text from every single girl on the Lipscomb volleyball team and I thought that was so cool because I wasn’t even their teammate yet,” said Rogers.
The right side hitter had verbally committed to play for Lipscomb the previous year, but said this act of kindness from the team further affirmed her decision to become a part of its 2014-15 volleyball roster. And although excited about the transition at the time, Rogers said she thought her days of pitching were over.
But today, after four successful years on the volleyball court and several NCAA appearances, Rogers says she is trading in her kneepads this spring for a spot on Lipscomb Softball’s roster this season.
“After our volleyball season ended, I approached the softball coaching staff to see if I could walk onto the team,” said Rogers. “Originally my intention was to see if I could play next year, because I knew I wanted to get a master’s degree, but Coach Kristin Ryman came back to me and said I could join the team this year.”
Since January, the two-sport athlete has fully immersed herself as a member of the softball team, but says she doesn’t believe this experience would be possible if not for the growth she experienced as part of the volleyball program.
“I am really grateful for the opportunity to have played for Brandon, not only because he was a great coach and we had a lot of success, but because he taught us so much about life and building relationships and gave us such an amazing college experience,” said Rogers.
Rosenthal, who has coached at Lipscomb for 15 years and has led the team to seven NCAA tournaments, says Rogers was not only a valuable asset to the court but also to the team as her lively personality and encouragement was inspiring to her teammates. He says he is excited for this new chapter for Rogers.
“I am so proud of Chloe and am her biggest fan,” said Rosenthal. “The funny thing about this situation is most people will think that the biggest component for this to happen is her athletic ability, but in contrast I think it is Chloe’s ability as a teammate that makes this all possible. Lipscomb volleyball has benefited greatly from Chloe's work ethic and leadership as a teammate. And to now see her out there on the softball field truly makes me smile, because this has always been a dream. Lipscomb is lucky to have such a special person as Chloe Rogers.”
This season, Rogers is one of three pitchers for Lipscomb’s softball team who has also made two trips to the NCAA tournament in program history.
Rogers says she appreciates the opportunity to play under head coach Kristin (Peck) Ryman ('04), especially because she had a similar story to Rogers.
Ryman, who has coached the lady Bisons for 13 seasons and developed one of the top softball programs in the NCAA, was also a two-sport Lipscomb Athlete playing four years for both Lipscomb’s volleyball and softball programs.
On the softball field Ryman was one of the most decorated players in program history. She excelled at shortstop and in center field, helping lead the Lady Bison softball program to 122 wins while being named All-Conference and All-Region.
Ryman also set numerous school records in volleyball as a four-year starter, also becoming the first Lady Bison to be named to the A-Sun All-Conference Team.
“It’s so cool that Coach Ryman also experienced this as an athlete, so she is very supportive,” said Rogers.
Rosenthal, who has now coached both Rogers and Ryman, says he hopes people realize what a unique accomplishment this is.
“There is a reason that you do not find multiple sport athletes in college – it is really hard,” said Rosenthal. “But bottom line is Chloe is a very unique person that is able to connect and create bonds with people very quickly. No doubt she is and has been a tremendous athlete, but she also has had major success with us at the highest level, and for her to switch over and play a completely different sport is equally impressive.”