Base NCO helps Wounded Warriors through racquetball

  • Published
  • By Kendahl Johnson
  • Robins Public Affairs
His speed and agility on the court have earned him the nickname Rabbit, and his talent and dedication have made him one of the top five racquetball players in the Air Force and earned him a national ranking.

Master Sgt. Frederick Rogers is ranked 341st in the country and sixth in the state of Georgia (second in the 50+ division). Recently, he won his third gold medal in four years at the National Singles Champion-ships in the Military Men's 40+ category.

However, amidst all his accolades and accomplishments, it is his work with the Wounded Warrior Program's Racquetball Rehabilitation Clinic that he is especially proud of.

He recently returned from Fort Benning, where he worked a racquetball clinic involving about 150 participants.

"It's not so much the sport itself; it's the mental attitude, the desire of those who are trying to overcome mental and physical injuries," Rogers said. "They're working towards finding something positive in their lives, and racquetball helps so much. The determination and fortitude that some of these members have is without words."

In addition to his work with the Wounded Warriors, he also promotes racquetball in deployed locations and helps acquire racquets to help replace deteriorating equipment in those locations. He is also a member of the Air Force Racquetball Team, and he said it's been one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.

"Being able to represent the Air Force in tournaments has been very special," Rogers said. "It's breathtaking when people acknowledge and support us for not what we do on the court, but for what we do for our country."

Rogers started playing racquetball as a teenager. His primary sport was wrestling, and he picked up racquetball as a way to help keep weight off and never stopped. He's now been playing the sport for three and a half decades.

Age and injuries - two knee surgeries and an Achilles injury - has forced him to adjust his strategy a little, but Rogers is still able to beat players half his age.

"It becomes more of a mental game," Rogers said. "When you're young, you're invincible. You can bounce off the walls and chase everything down. I can still compete at a national level because I'm playing smarter and not trying to do all the things I could do when I was younger."

His secret to success?

"The keys to being a successful racquetball player are patience and dedication," he said. "Like any sport an individual wants to excel in, it takes time. A lot of people have natural skills and abilities, but it takes time to refine those."

Because he plays at such a high level, it's difficult to find a challenge at the base level. But, locally he spends a lot of time alone on the courts drilling and time off the courts cardio training and weight lifting.

He plays in tournaments throughout Georgia and makes an effort to find partners his level while traveling for his job as a functional manager in the Air Force Reserve Command.