RICHMOND, Va. – Jody Rogers doesn’t have to be here, sloughing through paperwork and compliance meetings with her assistants, Kyleigh Gerlach and Chad Gatzlaff. She didn’t have to spend the spring zigzagging the country, feet pounding the pavement of an unending recruiting trail.
Her University of Indianapolis program stood among the Division II volleyball elite. The Greyhounds were coming off a dream season, a 31-win campaign that included the school’s first Final Four appearance. Her next two recruiting classes were already locked in. The incoming class, she says, was her best ever.
So what is she doing in Richmond on a Monday afternoon, combing over recruiting boards and evaluating the state of the VCU program?
At UIndy, she was an institution of 400-plus wins and 16 years of success. Last year she was two wins away from a national title. Now she’s at square one. VCU isn’t a rebuilding project by any means – it was 25-6 last year – but the Rams have also won one conference title in 28 years. Rogers is used to, and demands, more.
“People were very surprised, but excited for me when I took the job, to be honest with you,” Rogers says. “Because I had such a good situation at UIndy, and people thought that I was going to retire there. Certain opportunities arose, and I felt that at this time, it was a great move for me professionally and personally.”
Decanting Rogers’ motivations for leaving Indianapolis and jumping at the chance to take over the VCU program probably requires a walk down the streets of her hometown of Newton, Mass.
Rogers and her sister Wendy, 13 months her senior, grew up in a three-story (three-decka, by her parlance) house in Newton, a charming Boston suburb on the city’s western outskirts. Although Newton is relatively affluent, Rogers and her family were anything but well off. They lived on the first floor of a house owned by their grandmother, who took up shop on the second story. The third floor was rented to tenants.