By John Ring


The selling of Babe Ruth to the Yankees.

A Game 7 loss to the Cardinals in 1967.

A Game 7 loss to the Reds in 1975.

Bucky Dent's home run.

Bill Buckner's error.

A Game 7 loss to the Mets in 1986.

Like other Red Sox fans, Wendy Rogers has suffered over the years. "I thought it was all over for them last year after that 18-3 loss," said Rogers about the pounding the Sox took from the Yankees in game 3 of the AL pennant series.

But then Boston became the first team ever to storm back from that deficit, beat the hated-Yanks and then routed the Cardinals in the World Series.

So rebuilding the Knox womens basketball program shouldn't be that daunting for Wendy Rogers.

Rogers, an assistant coach at Salem State College (MA) for the past three seasons, was named as the new Prairie Fire coach two weeks ago. A lifelong New Englander, Rogers has a somewhat tempered accent. "It must have been the five years I lived in Maryland," laughed Rogers.

She had never been to Galesburg before her visit on Memorial Day weekend for her interview at Knox. "It's a beautiful campus. I was impressed by the space, how green it was, and the brick buildings."

"I know that the Midwest Conference is a strong academic conference and I have a passion to get back into coaching and teaching," said Rogers, who was also a head coach at Regis College in Weston, Massachusetts for two seasons.  "I know that the program has struggled at Knox. I sensed a strong desire by both Dan Calandro and Knox alumni that the program needed enthusiasm, a different kind of leadership. A belief that this can be done. During my interview, I had questions as well. Are the resources there to be a competitive program together?"

"From what I've seen on videotape and on paper, which is all I have, we need to take care of the ball better. We have some returning talent but are undersized in the post. I talked to eight of our returning players and they are eager for success.  I sent them each a summer workout program."

"My basketball philosophy is to press and play man to man defense but you have to fit the strength of your team to your style of play. In the conference last year, this team didn't lose by that much. They were right there. Losing is a habit, just like winning is a habit. They need  a ray of hope."

Rogers admitted that recruiting will be tougher for her in the Midwest at first. "Recruiting is our most important thing but right now, our kids coming back are our best recruiters. They can answer questions such as 'What is the coach like?', 'What's it like at Knox College'.  The most important team you have is the one staring you in the face but there's no doubt our first recruiting class is going to be important."

Not only does Rogers know that high school girls basketball in this area is solid, she's already made some phone calls.

"I've already talked to Coach Massey," she said. "That has to be a great program in Galesburg, to accomplish what they have over the past years."

At Salem under Coach Tim Shea (535-120 career record), Rogers helped guide the team to three straight NCAA Division III appearances. Shea has made 19 of those in his 23 years at Salem. "We had a bullseye on our chest every time we took the court," said Rogers, proudly of Salem.

Rogers is more than ready to hit the ground running. To her, the past at Knox College in terms of wins and losses for the Prairie Fire basketball team doesn't mean anything.

 "I told the players coming back that right now, they're undefeated," said Coach Rogers.  "Whatever happened before here doesn't matter. It's over with. This is a new beginning."

Coming from a Red Sox fan, that means something.