PREP FOOTBALL | ILLINOIS COACH OF THE YEAR

Straightforward coaching approach has worked best for T.F. North's Artie Rogers

2011-12-08T20:00:00Z 2013-09-13T00:09:13Z Straightforward coaching approach has worked best for T.F. North's Artie RogersBy Ken Karrson kenneth.karrson@nwi.com, (219) 933-4192 nwitimes.com

Artie Rogers would probably fail as a salesman in the retail world.

That job often requires a bit of product embellishment to make the marketed item more appealing to consumers, and such stretching of the truth is simply not in the T.F. North football coach's DNA.

"Faking something is not his style," said Meteors assistant coach Tim Zasada, who first coached with Rogers in 1995 at Hammond High.

The straightforward method has certainly worked well for Rogers on the sidelines. In his third year in charge of North's program, he convinced a small group of players whose ranks had been further thinned by injuries that there was no reason to panic.

"He gave us a lot of insight and opened our eyes," said senior Dion Beecham, who became the Meteors' starting quarterback in Week 3 following a season-ending injury to Calvin Lindsey.

"He had patience -- we made mistakes, but he wasn't always yelling -- and that was really important. He said don't let anyone tell us we can't do anything, just go out there and play ball."

That's what North did, well enough to score regular-season wins over District 215 rival T.F. South, plus playoff qualifiers Bremen and Eisenhower. The Meteors reached the state tournament themselves and put Oak Forest on the ropes in the opening round before the Bengals rallied.

Nevertheless, it was a year of achievement in Calumet City, perhaps somewhat unexpectedly given the unfavorable circumstances. For that reason, Rogers has been chosen as The Times Coach of the Year.

"They could have easily folded their tents and would have had plenty of excuses to give, but that wasn't the case," Rogers said of his players. "The kids were really disappointed against Oak Forest. That was the most gratifying part.

"It seems that there's not much (outside) belief in the kids, even in the building. There was a long period where T.F. North (football) struggled, and that's not going away, but we focus on what we can control."

Rogers also focused on a no-frills approach when it came to dealing with his athletes and evaluating them.

"I'm very honest with the kids," he said. "They know where I'm coming from, and I try to be upfront with them, both good and bad. I have a hard time selling a kid on something that isn't true.

"I just try to be myself -- that's probably my strength."

Rogers will get no argument from his longtime buddy in that regard.

"We don't lie to them or make things up, and we don't like to sugarcoat things," Zasada said. "Artie doesn't talk much, but when he does, they listen and they take it pretty seriously.

"This was definitely a challenging season for us, but Artie did a fabulous job of using what we had and using it to our advantage. He was letting those players know he had confidence in them, and that goes a long way."

***

Rogers and Zasada represent coaching's yin and yang.

The latter, the head coach of the Meteors from 2001-06, had Rogers as defensive coordinator for five of those years and is noted for his fiery demeanor. Zasada calls his association with the more laid-back Rogers "the perfect combination."

When he became North's head coach himself in 2009, Rogers didn't hesitate to call upon Zasada.

"He's an important piece," Rogers said. "I don't know if there's anybody around who sells the kids better on playing hard, and I don't try to change him into something he's not. We understand what we each do and what we're good at."

"They're both great coaches," Beecham said. "Coach Rogers told us how to face reality and deal with it. He said things we learn on the high school level we'll take with us (as adults)."

That, even more than the on-field success, is what Rogers loves about working with teenagers. When several former North players returned for the Week 9 game against Eisenhower, he got a reminder of the impact coaches can have on their athletes.

"This isn't the most important thing they'll do, but if you can get through this, you can get through most of the things you're going to deal with in life," Rogers said. "Bad things happen in life, but you've got to suck it up, and we get guys buying into that.

"When they go through it, they don't really appreciate how much they're going to miss this. We preach to the kids about enjoying what's going on."

2011 was definitely a season for the Meteors to enjoy.

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow The Times

Fan Poll

Loading…

Which school has the area's best boys cross country team?

View Results

Follow your school

Duneland Conference

Chesterton Trojans
News
Crown Point Bulldogs
News
Lake Central Indians
News
LaPorte Slicers
News
Merrillville Pirates
News
Michigan City Wolves
News
Portage Indians
News
Valparaiso Vikings
News

Greater South Shore Conference

Bishop Noll Warriors
News
Calumet Warriors
News
Lake Station Eagles
News
Michigan City Marquette Blazers
News
North Newton Spartans
News
River Forest Ingots
News
Wheeler Bearcats
News
Whiting Oilers
News

Great Lakes Athletic Conference

Clark Pioneers
News
Gavit Gladiators
News
Hammond Wildcats
News
Morton Governors
News

Hoosier Conference

Rensselaer Bombers
News

Northwest Crossroads Conference

Andrean 59ers
News
Griffith Panthers
News
Highland Trojans
News
Hobart Brickies
News
Kankakee Valley Kougars
News
Lowell Red Devils
News
Munster Mustangs
News

Northwestern Conference

Lew Wallace Hornets
News
Roosevelt Panthers
News
West Side Cougars
News

Porter County Conference

Boone Grove Wolves
News
Hanover Central Wildcats
News
Hebron Hawks
News
Kouts Mustangs/Fillies
News
LaCrosse Tigers
News
Morgan Twp. Cherokees
News
South Central Satellites
News
Washington Twp. Senators
News
Westville Blackhawks
News

Independents

Bowman Academy Eagles
News
Calumet Christian
News
Campagna Academy
News
Covenant Christian Knights
News
E.C. Central Cardinals
News
Hammond Baptist Swordsman
News
Luther East Eagles
News

Chicago Catholic League

Mt. Carmel Caravan
News
Seton Academy Sting
News
St. Francis deSales Pioneers
News

Chicago Public League

Washington Minutemen/Minutewomen
News

East Suburban Catholic

Marian Catholic Spartans
News

Metro Suburban

Illiana Christian Vikings
News

River Valley Conference

Beecher Bobcats/Ladycats
News
Illinios Lutheran Chargers
News

South Suburban Blue

T.F. North Meteors
News
T.F. South Rebels
News

Southland Athletic Conference

Bloom Twp. Blazin' Trojans
News
Crete-Monee Warriors
News

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor Vikings
News

SouthWest Suburban Red

Thornridge Falcons
News
Thornton Wildcats
News
Thornwood Thunderbirds
News