CLASS OF 2019: Coaching greats Bob Rogers and Larry Peterson to be inducted into NU Athletics Hall of Fame
When it came to coaching high school volleyball, Bob Rogers and Larry Peterson had a simple yet highly effective approach — keep it positive, fun and competitive, especially during practice.
“The thing that we tried to do was make practice the highlight of the girls’ day,” said Rogers, who coached Nevada Union girls volleyball from 1994-2008 and again from 2010-11. “They loved practice. They were excited for it. We tried to make practice interesting and fast paced and fun, and really when we played the matches it was easy because our work was done.”
Peterson added, “It was a big thing for us to establish a culture. We would tell the girls, ‘We want three things from you. We want you to have fun. We want you to work hard and we want you to be nice to each other.’ And, they bought into that.”
No one can argue with the results.
With Rogers and Peterson co-coaching the Lady Miners varsity team, Nevada Union built one of the greatest high school volleyball dynasties of all time, winning six straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championships (2002-2007) and three Northern California titles (2003, 2004, 2007).
The Lady Miners were so dominant during their six-season run of championship success, they went 24-0 in playoff matches and dropped only one game along the way, going 72-1.
For their accomplishments at the helm of the girls volleyball team, Rogers and Peterson are both being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 27.
“We just had so much fun,” said Peterson, who co-coached the team with Rogers from 2001-08 and again from 2010-11. “I feel like we should be honoring everybody else. The kids were great; their parents were great. Going to practice can be drudgery at the end of the season, but it never got to be that way. We had so much fun with the kids at practice and everything and yet everybody really worked hard and it was just a wonderful experience all the way through, and this is the cherry on top.”
Rogers said he’s honored for the recognition, but gave his players much of the credit for the program’s success.
“I owe the credit to the girls mainly,” he said. “Fortunately, we had a lot of cooperation with parents and players, and I was fortunate enough to latch on to Larry which put us over the top.”
FROM TACOS TO TITLES
Before taking over the varsity program, Rogers spent two years coaching the freshman team and another two at the junior varsity level. After taking the reins of the varsity team, Rogers went to work lining up a tough schedule for his team. One of the teams he wanted on that schedule was North Lake Tahoe, which Peterson had led to multiple state titles as a coach.
But, when Rogers called the school, the volleyball coach at the time informed him Peterson had moved to Grass Valley. With that knowledge Rogers reached out Peterson with a different proposal from the original one he set out with.
“I tracked Larry down and said, ‘Hey would you like to coach with me? Let’s go to lunch and talk about it.’” Rogers recalled. “He’s a sucker for tacos, so I took him to a taco place and convinced him to come coach, and it just worked out wonderfully.”
KEYS TO SUCCESS
In addition to developing a culture of positivity and competitiveness, Rogers and Peterson also relied on data analysis and were unafraid to try new things.
“We had a mentality of why re-invent the wheel? We stole every good idea that we saw,” said Rogers. “We really looked at what successful high school and college programs were doing and cherry picked all the good ideas.
“We were also pretty serious about analyzing our match. We kept a lot of statistics and we’d review that and tailor practice to help improve on the things we’d see needed improvement.”
Peterson, who grew up in Manhattan Beach, also brought to the table plenty of experience from his playing days at Long Beach State and beyond, as well as his coaching days at North Lake Tahoe.
Rogers, who grew up in Redondo Beach, was a runner in college at University of Southern California, and had experience playing beach volleyball.
EMPHASIS ON EDUCATION AND SPORTSMANSHIP
For Rogers and Peterson, it was always important to them their players performed well in the classroom as well as the court, and that they conducted themselves in a dignified way, win or lose.
“One of the things I’m most proud of was the grades our team got,” Rogers said. “They all got good grades. It was very, very rare that I got a notice someone was having eligibility problems. We made sure they were good students”
Peterson added, “We really encouraged the kids to be good winners, and when we lost, we’d be good losers too. We really didn’t want our kids to be arrogant or cocky, and to treat the other team with respect.”
Several players from the Rogers and Peterson era earned Division I scholarships, including Ali (Daley) McColloch, who is being inducted into the NU Athletics Hall of Fame alongside her coaches.
“They just really cared a lot about the girls and their well being,” McColloch said. “Bob and Larry were such a huge part of my success when I was younger and they helped me grow as an athlete and as an individual. They were always so supportive and their knowledge of the game helped me get to the next level.”
TEACHING LIFE LESSONS
High school athletics are often a way to teach young people life lessons through sport and it was no different for Rogers and Peterson.
“Learning to work with each other and how to pursue a common goal was really important,” said Peterson. “We really pushed the whole idea of being cooperative, and also being competitive.”
Rogers added, “My main feeling was, I wanted to build a culture of fitness into their life and hopefully they would be active and fit for the duration of their lives.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email email@example.com.
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