JONESBORO, Ark. — In sports. you hear it a lot: Take advantage of any opportunity you’re given.
The timing of Destinee Rogers's opportunity was anything but perfect.
“I will never forget that night," Coach Rogers said. "Obviously, I was upset, I had a lot of emotions going.”
On Monday, Dec. 13, Arkansas State University head women's basketball coach Matt Daniel resigned for personal reasons.
“I had to quickly put that to the side and focus on the players," Coach Rogers said. "They were emotional. They were in shock, so I just tried to be as positive as I could.”
There was no time to waste for the Red Wolves, their next game was in less than 24 hours.
“It was like 10 o'clock at night," Coach Rogers said. "I told them 'we’ll be ok, just trust me. I trust you and let’s do this together.'”
Coach Rogers may have been fighting butterflies before her debut, but she didn’t show it.
Senior Morgan Wallace had full confidence in her new head coach.
“She was like, 'I’m not nervous,'" Wallace said. "So seeing she wasn’t nervous, we said 'OK, since you’re not nervous we won’t be nervous.' She was like 'I just need you guys to trust me and let’s just do this thing together.'”
Coach Rogers could sense the team’s energy before the game even tipped off.
“The shootaround was good, the energy was high, and you could just tell that they were ready to play," Coach Rogers said. "I had a good feeling walking away from that shootaround that this was going to be special.”
That night Mississippi Valley State stood no chance. The Red Wolves dominated 81-47.
But it wasn’t just Coach Rogers first win as head coach. It was the first ever for an Black woman leading an Arkansas State team.
“After the game we were like 'we should do something,' and everyone said 'let’s spray her with water,' so we had a plan," Wallace said. "We weren’t going to spray the TV board, so we had to make sure we strategically sprayed in the right areas.”
That wouldn’t be the only surprise for coach. She received a special message from National Champion head coach Dawn Staley of South Carolina.
“To receive that message from her, to have text conversations with her, to have her send me a piece of the 2017 national championship net," Coach Rogers said in disbelief. "It has just been amazing to me.”
A historic goal accomplished, with another one in her sights. Coach Rogers is determined to have her interim tagged removed to become the next head coach at Arkansas State.
“It would mean the world to me," Coach Rogers said. "Obviously, that is what I’m working towards. I believe what is for me is for me. I believe this is for me, but first it’s about the kids. Everything is about them.”