The Toronto Rock play their first game in just over a weeks time. With the season just around the corner, the team named their captains for the 2018-19 campaign.
With a vacancy at captain following the departure of veteran Brodie Merrill, the Rock took the opportunity to name 24-year-old Challen Rogers as the fifth captain in franchise history.
“I think it was an easy decision for us (to select Challen as captain) and great for the Toronto Rock now and into the future,” Rock owner, president, and general manager Jamie Dawick said. “He’s a young guy but has a lot of leadership abilities and we’re excited to put the ‘C’ on him now and see him in this role for many years to come.”
Rogers was selected by the Rock with the second overall pick in the 2016 NLL Draft. He was named the top graduating junior player a year prior and managed to seamlessly make the jump to pro lacrosse with the Oakville Rock in the summer of 2016.
In just two seasons, Rogers has shown an incredible amount of promise and the ability to become one of the best two-way threats in the NLL.
His rookie campaign could be categorized as underwhelming based on the numbers he managed in transition with Oakville over the summer. He managed three goals and seven points, along with 66 loose balls and eight caused turnovers in 17 contests.
There was room to improve heading into 2018, and Rogers had a standout sophomore campaign, finishing first in scoring among defenders with 29 points in 16 games. He also took just six minutes in penalties while adding two shorthanded goals, one game-winning goal, 86 loose balls, and 15 caused turnovers. As a result, Rogers was nominated for NLL transition Player of the Year, but he finished as a runner-up behind Joey Cupido of the Colorado Mammoth.
Rogers followed up his massive summer by posting 15 goals and 32 points with Oakville this past summer. For his efforts, he was awarded the Jim Murphy Award as the regular season MVP in Major Series Lacrosse.
“When I met with Jamie (Dawick) and Matt (Sawyer), I didn’t know what to expect but when they brought up the captaincy it was an immediate shock and also such an honour,” explained Rogers. “I have been fortunate to be around some great leaders like Sandy Chapman and Kasey Beirnes and also being around Colin Doyle and seeing how he acts with people and what he has meant to the Toronto Rock, they have all taught me a lot.
“It’s all still sinking in. When we did a team promo video shoot last week, it was the first time I pulled on the jersey with the ‘C’ and it was a bit of a surprise just seeing it on my jersey. My Mom and Grandma will be coming in from out of town for the home opener and it will mean a lot to me to have that family support there when I run out of the tunnel for the first time at home at Scotiabank Arena. I don’t know what to expect emotionally, but I can’t wait.”
Speaking of Doyle, the former Rock captain was one of the first to congratulate Rogers on the honour. He was followed by goaltener Nick Rose and the Boston Cannons – Rogers’ Major League Lacrosse team.
The Rock also named their assistant captains on Thursday. Rob Hellyer and Brad Kri will serve as the alternate captains for home games, while Tom Schreiber and Bill Hostrawser will wear the letters for road contests.
“Robbie is going to continue to wear an ‘A’ and has proven to be a great leader and has a lot of experience. He’s won a championship here and knows the sacrifices you need to make to be successful,” Dawick said. “Adding Billy and Kri, those two have been around this team for a number of years and have been able to learn from our great leaders of the past including the guy who I believe set the bar in Colin Doyle. They’ve been leading the last few years even without a letter on their jersey. And Tom is another great leader who has really come into his own in a very short period of time as well. We have a really solid group and we are looking to them to lead this team in the right direction.”
Toronto opens its season on the road against the Buffalo Bandits on Dec. 21.