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County woman recognized for her academic and athletic achievements

Honored for her efforts on-and-off the pitch, Columbus resident Sophia Rogers earned the Woman of the Year award at the New Jersey Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) awards luncheon on Feb. 3 at Seton Hall University.

The association presents the Woman of the Year to one outstanding athlete from each college and university in the state. This award is based upon athletic excellence, community service and academic success.

As a student at Rowan College at Burlington County (RCBC), Rogers plays soccer for the school’s team, which has been a way of life for her and her siblings growing up in Columbus.

“My dad and older brothers were the first people I played soccer with, and it sparked my competitive side as I was always trying to keep up with them,” Rogers said. “I have been blessed to be able to be able to play for many different teams and organizations growing up, from the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program to the Red Bulls Select team.”

Given Rogers’ experience and talents on the field, she soon found her place in the RCBC’s starting lineup as a freshman at a wing back positon given her defensive skill set. The Lady Barons’ head coach, Kathleen DeLitta pointed out that Rogers’ passion, leadership and skills on the ball have helped improve the team’s performances overall.

“Sophia has been a great asset and influence to the team these last two years. She showed up to every session and game with a genuine smile on her face. Her leadership skills were extremely valued on the back line as she directed the team moving the ball forward,” DeLitta said. “If there was a tactic we wanted to apply to a specific game Sophia understood and made sure to communicate it while on the field. She definitely was a huge part of the team’s effort to decrease the amount of goals scored on us these last two years.”

As a nursing student at RCBC, Rogers splits her time between the pitch and the classroom and noted that after graduation, she would like to continue her education to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

Rogers said she has even received offers to play Division 2 soccer and is currently trying to find the right fit for where she wants to continue her academic and athletic career.

While Rogers continues to move forward with her academic collegiate athletic career, the award and recognition from the national organization also served as a moment for her to reflect on one of her favorite life moments playing the sport she’s grown to love.

“My favorite soccer moment and what really defines soccer to me, was when I went to Ethiopia to meet my new siblings,” she said. “I was on the street playing with my soccer ball, and some kids came and we just started a pickup soccer game. We didn’t know each other, we didn’t even speak the same language, but we all spoke soccer. Soccer is something that brings people from all different parts of life together – for the love of the game.”

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