Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of profiles of local athletes.
It's been a long, winding journey for Parker Rogers. He has been transferred from foster home to foster home across Massachusetts. But after several difficult years, the Haverhill High senior has found a home.
"I've been everywhere," he said.
The difficult journey Rogers took to Haverhill High School has helped him deal with what has been a struggling season for the Hillies boys basketball team. Haverhill was 5-14 entering Friday's finale against Methuen and had lost its last six games.
"I can't really get down on a tough season," said Rogers, a forward. "There's more to life than just basketball."
Rogers is fortunate to have found a permanent family in Haverhill. He moved to the city at the age of 14, when he was taken in by a foster family here. The family adopted him last year when he was 17.
"I'm just happy to have a home," he said.
On the basketball court for Rogers, a tumultuous first half of the season has turned into a successful second half individually. He struggled during the first half, dealing with a knee injury which affected his play. Despite the injury, he played through the pain and forced himself to take to the court because other players on the team were also hurt. Although he is still bothered by the injury, Rogers has been the Hillies' leading scorer in four of the six games during the losing streak. In two of those games, he scored more than 20 points.
The Gazette sat down with Rogers to talk about his life on and off the court.
You have emerged as a bright spot during a tough season. What positives do you take out of this season?
I've been focusing on trying to get better and helping other kids get better for next season. I've been trying to tell younger kids that it isn't all about winning. It's about good sportsmanship as well.
How do you keep such a positive attitude, despite the losing?
My life has been pretty tough. I've been through a lot of hard situations while going through foster care. I've never been a person to just get down over sports. I just think that it could be a lot worse than it is now.
How did you get started in basketball?
I had never played basketball until I was 14 years old. I was living in Natick with a foster family at the time. I just started playing in a residential program and it helped me take my mind off a lot of things.
Do you play any other sports?
I played football for a couple years, but I didn't really enjoy it and I just latched onto basketball.
What do you hope to do next year?
I hope to go to Anna Maria College in Worcester. I just applied there and I went out there and talked to the coaches, who seemed interested in me. I want to major in criminal justice and hopefully become a police officer.
What is your favorite aspect of basketball?
Getting out there and playing the competition. I like playing in the Merrimack Valley Conference because it is one of the toughest leagues in Massachusetts.
Does the tougher competition make you a better player?
It makes me a better player and a better person.
What is the biggest thing that coach Mike Trovato tries to get you to improve on?
My class work. School comes before basketball. He has sat me down at the beginning of games if he got a bad report from one of my teachers or if I was late to school. He really stresses to me that my grades are in order.
What were your goals coming into this season?
I had goals to be on the All-MVC team. But I struggled in the first half offensively and defensively. I started getting into my groove halfway through the season ... The knee injury hurt me a lot. I used to be able to dunk, but now I can't really because it is still bothering me.
Who is your inspiration?
A: My adoptive mother. She found me through an agency and was attracted to the profile she read of me and she took me in and kept me.
Let's do some favorites. What's your favorite music?
"Stay Schemin" by Rick Ross
Favorite sports team?
The Dallas Cowboys because they're America's team. They can't seem to win recently though.
It was LeBron James until he left Cleveland. Now it's Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose.
Any kind of Spanish food
Villamar Caribe restaurant in Haverhill
Favorite subject in school?
History. I just like to learn about the past and how we are today and how we got to be this way.
A: "Law Abiding Citizen"
I just like to watch college basketball. I like Syracuse and UConn.