Field Hockey Wins Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award
BERKELEY - Showing unified courage and leadership after experiencing the tragic unexpected passing of teammate Zoë Rogers last October, the California field hockey program won the Pac-12 2020-21 Sportsmanship Award, as announced by the conference on Thursday.
The Pac-12 Sportsmanship Award is annually selected by members of the Pac-12 Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) and is based on good sportsmanship and ethical behavior in participation of intercollegiate athletics, as well as a demonstration of good citizenship outside of the sports-competition setting.
"On behalf of our program, staff, Zoë's teammates and Cal colleagues and administrators, I want to express our love and gratitude for this recognition," said the Donna Fong Director of Field Hockey Shellie Onstead. "We resolve to honor Zoë with our actions, as well as our words, as we move forward. Just to be nominated for the Pac 12 Sportsmanship Award means we are on the right track. Congratulations to the other nominees and thank you for this incredible acknowledgement."
In addition to her determination to be an ideal teammate as a goalkeeper for the Golden Bears, Rogers strived to be a leader in many other ways. She served as an executive board member of the Black Student-Athlete Committee (BSAC), a volunteer coach at her Pennsylvania high school Gwynedd Mercy Academy and as a board member for Common Bondz — a nonprofit organization focused on educating what drives racism and bias against African Americans.
Cal produced a virtual Celebration of Life memorial for Rogers with her family and the Cal Athletics family. The team compiled a memory book for the Rogers' family similar to what seniors receive for Senior Day. In remembrance of Rogers' No. 91 jersey, the Bears held a 30-day challenge featuring a daily 91-second wall-sit wherever the student-athletes were at the time, inspiring numerous other teams to follow.
Motivated by Rogers' passion towards the Black Lives Matter movement, the Bears participated in Black History Month celebration efforts, creating social media tributes that honored historical, modern day and future Black leaders throughout society.
When the Bears returned to the pitch with training and the start of the 2021 spring campaign, they kept Rogers in their hearts all season long. Team huddles ended with the shout of "Ninety-one!" There was a tribute patch on all jerseys and Cal wore a warm-up shirt featuring Rogers' signature aviator glasses. Rogers' jersey was brought to all team events throughout the season. In addition, a memorial poster was displayed at Underhill Field all season. One of Rogers' teammates, Brynn Zorilla, encouraged the team to participate in a team exercise of answering the question "Why do you play for Zoë?" on an index card. The cards were taped around the poster to symbolize each student-athlete's drive to play for Rogers.