Union City’s Ada Rogers Lets Nothing Stand in the Way of Competing

 Union City’s Ada Rogers Lets Nothing Stand in the Way of Competing

Union City’s Ada Rogers continues to compete at a high level, despite health issues that require much attention….(photos: Mike Hutchens – School Communications Director)

(Story by Mike Hutchens – Union City Schools Communications Director)

One need not look any further than the final event of the Class 1A pentathlon to get a snapshot of Ada Rogers’ young life so far.

Mired at the bottom of the standings with the chances of moving up greatly against her, the Union City High School junior, who battles cystic fibrosis and severe diabetes, responded by setting a new school record in the 800-meter run to finish 11th Wednesday in Murfreesboro.

Rogers ran a 2:48.30 to place sixth in the 800 – her best finish in any of the five events that make up the competition. She placed eighth in the shot put, 11th in the 100-meter hurdles, and 12th in both the high jump and long jump to tally 1,769 total points.

It shouldn’t have surprised anyone who knows Rogers’ story and her challenges that she defied the odds to finish with her best at the end.

Diagnosed with CF at five months and diabetes in kindergarten, her life has been a series of treatments, medicine, trials, and physical challenges.

Excuses have never been part of her make-up, though.

“My mom told me when I was little that I wasn’t normal and that people were going to talk about the cystic fibrosis,” Ada said after concluding Wednesday’s competition. “She also told me to not let it get in my way. And I haven’t.

“My parents have never told me that I couldn’t do something. They’ve told me it might be hard or challenging, but neither has ever wanted me to make excuses.”

Ada’s daily routine includes eating at appointed times, taking sequences of medicines throughout the day, giving herself insulin shots, and sometimes wearing a breathing vest if she’s congested. While many – especially young people – might be overwhelmed at such a regiment, she laughed and said: “I’ve never known anything else.”

The ‘No Excuses’ motto resonates from an early age when an alternative treatment was being considered, one that likely would’ve made her a home schooled student with no opportunity for extracurricular activities or the many normalcies of being a simple young person.

“I remember being really upset and telling my mom to just let me do what I want so I can be happy,” she recalled. “She told me, ‘If I let you go to school, there will be no excuses, and you’re not going to use the CF or diabetes as excuses unless something is really wrong.”

Her mother, Laney, had a more vivid memory of the conversation.

“She looked at me and said: ‘I’m not doing that. I’ll get better,’” Mrs. Rogers claimed.

“It’s a long-term disease, but the only thing we’ve preached to Ada is that she has an obligation to her teammates to be at her best. That means keeping her blood sugar in check, making sure her breathing is good, and taking her medicines on time.”

Ada said she considers herself ‘normal,’ but admits to being “a little hard on myself. I do use my condition sometimes as motivation. I know there are people out there with similar issues and others, and I want to show people it can get better.

“I mostly just try and live in the moment. I guess I might have some limits, but I don’t think about them much. And when people tell me I can’t do something, it really motivates me to prove them wrong.”

The first UCHS track athlete to qualify for the pentathlon since the 1980s, Rogers began to critique her performance almost immediately afterward.

“I was a little mad at myself after the first four events because I’d set a goal, and I realized I wasn’t going to reach it,” she stated. “I wanted to do something memorable, and I guess I did by setting the school record in the 800. I’m proud of that.”

She also was adamant in her plans to return to the competition next spring and vowed to improve her final standing.

“I want to place (Top 8) and get a medal next year,” Ada stated with a determined look.

It’d be wise not to bet against her.

Charles Choate