Some dreams do come true for small town folks. Colorado State senior Tess Rogers is living proof.
The opportunity to play Division-I sports doesn't come along too much to Merino High School students, where Rogers graduated along with the other 17 members of her senior class.
If there were any candidates however, it had to be Rogers, who grew up playing basketball and running track along with volleyball.
"I always wanted to play a sport at the college level," Rogers said. "It wasn't until my junior year, when I started to get recruited for volleyball, that playing college volleyball was my dream."
A dream that was made more realistic in 2002 when she was recruited to CSU. Nothing like Denver or Boulder, Fort Collins felt more like home to Rogers. The atmosphere and the fans that the community bring to Moby was a selling point in her decision.
Rogers began her dominance of the Mountain West Conference when she first stepped onto the court. In her first year, she grabbed Freshman of the Year honors after recording 419 kills. The awards kept coming. She has been on three consecutive MWC all-Conference teams and played on a USA Select team over the summer with CSU head coach Tom Hilbert.
This year she was named preseason Co-Player of the Year by the coaches and selected media, but was humbled by the honor.
"Yes it is a great honor, but it is more important that my team succeeds and plays well than receiving any individual award," said Rogers.
Coach Hilbert has seen Rogers since he recruited her and said that her competitiveness and athleticism are some of the reasons as to why he likes her.
"She understands the game very well. Improving her finesse, passing and defense has only added to her arsenal," Hilbert commented.
The preparation that comes with each game varies from athlete to athlete. In the case of Rogers, Pixie Stix, a pack of Gatorade, and, if it's a home game, a tall white Mocha are a must before games.
"Superstitions? I don't know, there are too many," Rogers responded in a little bit of a laugh. "It's mostly stupid little girl things."
Being one of only three seniors on the team, a leadership role will definitely be filled by Rogers this year. Rogers has already shown a knack for it, recently purchasing matching rubber bracelets for her fellow seniors to wear. Casey Bauer wears one saying Confidence, Dre Downs sports one with Heart, and Rogers displays Desire.
"I gave it to them as something to help them refocus," Rogers said. "Something to get the mind off what just happened, because focus is a big key."
Rogers, a Human Development and Family Studies major, is already planning a career in education when she graduates. She says she wants to go to a small school to teach and hopefully coach volleyball.
"I just want to give back to a small town community, because that was what was given to me," Rogers said.
Coach Hilbert compares Rogers to Elly May Clampett – referring to the daughter of an Ozark hillbilly family who was adored by fans – saying that people just love her.
"The most impressive thing about her is that she has never been scared or afraid of playing," Hilbert said about Rogers. "It's like she's been doing this her whole life, which is very rare to see."