Rogers enjoys success in the ring

CCHS graduate reflects on collegiate boxing career, fighting for national title

FAMILY PHOTO — Harold Rogers, a Catholic Central graduate, competed in the National Collegiate Boxing Association finals in Reno, Nev. With Harold are his sister and trainer, Rhianna Rogers, center, and mother, Monica Cunha Rogers. -- Contributed

Sports fans in the Ohio Valley got to see Harold Rogers compete during his days on the soccer and wrestling teams at Catholic Central.

Now a senior at Miami (Ohio) University, he recently showcased a different skill set to a national audience — boxing.

The 2015 Central graduate earned the right to compete in the National Collegiate Boxing Association finals in Reno, Nev., on April 6. He lost a close decision to the Naval Academy’s Biron McNeely in the 185-pound final, but the journey was one he will never regret.

“It was definitely the closest match that I had this year,” Rogers said. “It was my only loss and I thought I won the fight. There was a TV broadcast and the commentators thought I won. He gave me a great fight. I left it all out there, sometimes the judges just don’t go your way. I feel good about my performance and that is what matters most to me.”

The experience of fighting in Nevada, where a lot of the biggest events in combat sports take place, added an extra level of excitement.

“It was very exciting,” Rogers said. “It was my goal all along. When I started boxing, I wanted to be the national champion. Going to Reno to compete in the tournament was very exciting. It was all very exciting. That was the biggest stage I had ever competed on and it was a great experience.”

Rogers is not sure what his future holds in the ring, but outside the ring he is beginning the next chapter by pursuing his master’s degree at Columbia University. He was 6-1 this year and has an overall amateur record of 10-3.

“As a boxer, I don’t know if I am going to fight any more. I like combat sports and eventually I want to get my black belt in Jujitsu and I might continue to train boxing. Who knows, maybe I will compete again in the future, but for now that was my last amateur fight.”

If it was the end of his journey in the ring, it was a memorable one he shared with his sister, Rhiannon, also a Central grad, who served as his trainer.

“I think it is going to have a lasting impact on my life. I am very happy that I did it and very grateful,” he said. “A big part of my training was thanks to my sister. She is the president of the boxing club and she was my trainer. Working with her really helped further my development.”

Making the walk to the ring is something Rogers said cannot be compared to anything else.

“I felt it more than ever in that final,” he said. “It’s nerve-wracking. You’re about to go do something for six minutes and there is no turning back. There is no way out of that ring, you just have to fight. There are not a lot of things in life like that.”

His journey was not without adversity, as he overcame a serious injury to fight for his goals.

“My sophomore year I tore my ACL. That was a big set back,” he said. “I was out for eight months, not being able to train as hard as I wanted to, but I came back. I feel like any combat sport, especially boxing require a great deal of discipline. You constantly have to overcome things that make you uncomfortable.”

He also felt his time at Central and being from the area helped him along the way. His fondest memories as a Crusader came during his junior year when the soccer and wrestling teams captured OVAC titles.

“I take pride in being from Steubenville,” he said. “I definitely think wrestling at Catholic Central played a big role. A lot of things I learned wrestling transferred over into boxing, especially cutting weight. I still talk to a lot of my coaches from Catholic Central. (Current CCHS head wrestling coach) Aaron Henry I still talk to this day. He kind of motivated me to box.

“We had a great soccer team that year and a great wrestling team. Winning those OVAC titles is something I will always remember.”

He also gave a lot of credit to his family.

“My family has been amazing,” he said. “Obviously my sister is my trainer, my parents come to every fight they can. They are very supportive. I can hear them yelling in the crowd. Usually they are more nervous than me.”

Rogers would encourage a young athlete in the valley to compete.

“I would say do it! You are going to learn a lot,” he said. “Just keep working. There is so much you can learn from sports and working hard about life.”

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)