Most can’t say they had the opportunity to try out for a professional soccer team by the age of 21. Most can’t say they played four years of collegiate soccer either.
Keegan Rogers can, however.
Rogers left Western midway through his 2014 senior year to pursue his dream of becoming a professional goalkeeper after playing four seasons with the men’s soccer team. Rogers now lives in Tucson, Arizona, playing for the FC Tucson, a semi-professional soccer team.
Growing up in Troutdale, Oregon, Rogers was a highly recruited goalkeeper after graduating from Portland Christian School.
“I was recruited by a lot of different schools, like [University of] Notre Dame, [University of Washington], Oregon State [University], [University of Dayton] and pretty much any school imaginable,” Rogers said. “But out of all the schools I talked to, Western came out of nowhere, and they offered me a great scholarship and a great opportunity to play right when I got there.”
It was a no-brainer decision for Rogers when Western offered the scholarship and game time. After the goalkeeper’s last game at Western, he went to work contacting United Soccer League teams and professional soccer league teams.
“I was invited to a preseason camp with Arizona United in the United Soccer League and after about a month of staying there, I was released,” Rogers said. “After that happened, I signed with a Premier Development League team called FC Tucson, which is where I’m currently at right now.”
When things didn’t work out with Arizona United, Rogers contacted FC Tucson and asked if they needed a goalkeeper, and they said yes.
FC Tucson is in the Premiere Development League, which is becoming a spot where Major League Soccer teams look for potential draft talent.
Adjusting from Western’s soccer team to a higher level of play in a different state, Rogers said he has noticed big differences between the teams.
“It’s different in a lot of ways. With Western, I got to spend four years with a core group of guys, so I got to know them really well,” he said. “The roster is always changing, but it’s always very good so the competition here is very high. This is probably one of the top PDL teams in the country if not the top PDL team in the country.”
However, the life of a pro soccer hopeful is not like the glamorous life of a famous player.
Rogers currently lives with five teammates in a two-bedroom apartment with the 90-degree desert weather just about every day. The perk of the housing set up is that it’s provided for the athletes.
“It’s actually pretty nice because we have a nice pool set up here and a free weight room,” Rogers said. “We’ll hang out by the pool or play some FIFA, or do whatever we have to do to not stay bored.”
The team Rogers is playing for does not pay the players but provides work for them.
“I’ll be a goalkeeper assistant for the club [my team] has,” Rogers said. “I’ll assist the goalkeeper coach and help out with practices and what not.”
In Rogers’ eyes, FC Tucson is one of the most marketable teams he could play for. The professional and competitive environment has been preparing Rogers for his future goals of becoming a professional soccer player.
“We have a great front office and coaching staff that know basically every single professional team in the United States, so we have connections with every team,” Rogers said.
Already competing and playing against MLS teams during his time with the FC Tucson, Rogers wants to keep this kind of competition going.
“I certainly want to continue to play professional soccer at some point so I just have to connect with the right people, get the opportunity and then perform well when the opportunity is given,” Rogers said.
While playing in Tucson, Rogers plans on attending University of Arizona in the fall to continue his undergraduate degree in English with an emphasis on secondary education. Possible coaching opportunities and school are in his near future plans, all while trying to make the big stage as a professional soccer player.
Leaving Western has been hard on Rogers, but his struggles have turned into other great experiences for him in his pursuit to accomplish his goals, he said.
“Bellingham was a really awesome community, and I didn’t realize how hard it would be to leave such a close knit group of people that I know up there,” Rogers said. “Leaving everything behind and starting something new is not the easiest thing but for the life I want to pursue and for the goals I want to accomplish, it was something that I had to do.”
Though he is hoping to play professional soccer by the end of next year, Rogers said he would love to stay where he’s at with FC Tucson if things don’t go as planned.