CENTER POINT — Cancer has invaded Ted Rogers’ lungs, his lymph nodes, his bones.
“The good news, it hasn’t gotten to my brain,” Rogers said Monday. “Cancer can’t grow on a rock.”
It hasn’t touched his spirit. Or his sense of humor. Instead of self-pity, Rogers offers one-liners.
“People ask what they can do. I should make a sign-up list for assistance with my suppositories,” he said. “Nobody has signed up for that.”
Surely, there will be some laughter amid tender reminiscing Friday night, when Rogers will reunite with many of his former players before Center Point-Urbana hosts East Marshall in a non-district football game on a field that bears Rogers’ name.
We’re talking hundreds of former players.
“People are coming from all over, with an opportunity to take the field with Coach Rogers one more time,” said CPU Principal Rob Libolt.
Kickoff is 7:30. Rogers and his players will gather in the west end zone around 6:45, then make their trek to midfield.
It will mark the end of an exhausting day. Rogers has a six-hour chemotherapy session scheduled for Friday, and said he’ll probably make the 50-yard journey in a golf cart.
“I’m sure I’ll be a little tired,” Rogers said. “I’m always tired, and I run out of energy pretty quick. And I have a lot of pain in my lower body. But I’m looking forward to Friday.”
The ceremony comes in the midst of a season of football revival at CPU. The Stormin’ Pointers are 3-0 and ranked No. 6 in Class 2A.
Skylar Price, 26, was a 2004 CPU graduate. He played football for Rogers as a linebacker and offensive guard.
“Coach Rogers is someone you could call at any time if your needed anything,” said Price, now a financial planner at Northwestern Mutual. “He was an effective coach because he had a personal relationship with his players.
“You could tell he cared about you. You knew football was important to him. But it wasn’t the most important thing.”
After stints at Somers Cedar Valley and Zearing Nesco, Rogers came to Center Point in 1973.
He led the Pointers to the Class 1A state championship in 1985, and continued to coach until retiring in 1993. He came back for 10 more seasons (1998-2007), finishing with a career record of 233-83-2.
The field was renamed Rogers Field in 2005.
Now 65, Rogers got the first inkling that something was wrong during a round of golf earlier this year.
“I thought I had pulled a muscle, but it kept getting worse, worse, worse.”
In the weeks since, a site on the Caring Bridge website has been developed in his honor. The site has had more than 2,000 hits.
“That doesn’t count all the cards, the calls, the e-mails,” Rogers said. “The support has been amazing.
“I’m going to fight each battle as it comes. I’ve always been a fighter. I plan on sticking around a while so I can give everybody (a hard time).”