Debra Armstrong Rogers
Back in the late 1960's, there was a young girl in 7th grade at Attucks Junior High School. She was a quiet girl, a good student and good friends with everyone. There was one thing very special about her, though. She was very fast! Coach Miller, Attucks long-suffering coach didn't know that, until one of her friends told him. "I have a friend who is faster than the fastest girl you have on the team". Since he had never heard of her or seen her run, he decided to put her to the test with his fastest runner. Sure enough, she passed every test he gave her. Coach Miller then talked to her mom and got permission for her to participate in the next Track Meet where she went ahead and won every race she entered even though she had never had formal training. This young girl, who was known as Debbie Armstrong, is our very own Coach Rogers!
After Attucks Junior High, Coach Rogers went on to Worthing High School where she trained under Coach Oliver Brown. He and his wife gave her the first proper running shoes Coach Rogers ever had. Up to then, she was running with regular tennis shoes! At age 16, she qualified for the 1968 Junior Olympics which were held in Colorado Springs. She won the Gold Medal in the 200 and the 400 dash races. By 1972, Coach Rogers was a world class runner, qualifying to compete in six different events: 100 dash, 200 dash, 400 dash, 800 dash, 1600 dash and the 400 dash with hurdles. She participated in the 1972 Munich Olympics in the 400 m heats and the 200 m semi-finals and repeated in the 1976 Montreal Olympics where she was 7th in the 4 X 100 m relay finals. In 1975, she was the U.S. Champion in the 200 meters.
By the end of the 1976 Olympics, Coach Rogers' attention had changed and she focused more on other aspects of her life, such as motherhood and her career. She graduated from Grambling University and is the mother of another Olympian, her son Aaron Armstrong. He participated in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where he won the Silver Medal in the 4 X 100 m relay race. When Coach Rogers was inducted into the Grambling University Hall of Fame in 2016, she discovered that there was yet another outstanding runner in her family. Her mother had the record for the fastest time in the 100 dash in Taylor, Texas until 2008! As they say, the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.
Coach Rogers has been a Physical Education teacher and coach for many years at the Houston Independent School district. Just like Coach Miller and Coach Brown did for her, she is continuing the tradition of passing on knowledge and expertise to the next generation. When you talk to her it becomes clear that she has lived by her philosophy: Focus on being the best you can be at whatever it is that you like. "Be self-motivated", she says. "You will be successful if you do what you enjoy. Keep focused on what's important. If passing your classes will determine your being able to do what your love, then focus on passing your classes." As she knows by experience, it will all come together for you if you always try to do your best!