New foundation named for CHS baseball benefactor

       For over a decade, Tom Rogers showered support on the Coronado High School baseball program.

The late Tom Rogers and his wife Donna, a Coronado graduate.
Courtesy of Bobby Lizarraga

       According to coach Bobby Lizarraga, the Westside resident and owner of the Manitou Cliff Dwellings “was one of the primary sources of funding for the baseball field - fencing, batting cages, batter's eye, grass on the infield, etc. He was a source of baseball equipment for the program since 1999, and sometimes summer jobs for some of the players. He would assist in financing our spring break road trips and was always good for a team meal.”
       Saddened yet inspired by Rogers' death last Oct. 4 at age 52 after a year-long battle with cancer, Lizarraga and others who knew him decided to make his memory live on. The Tommy Rogers Foundation has since been formed, with two main goals:
       1 - To establish a scholarship fund in his name. Starting this year, college-bound athletes who are talented but economically strapped can qualify for a $1,000 stipend (one each for a boy and girl athlete).
       2 - To continue improvements at the ball field. Nothing is prioritized yet, but one desirable upgrade mentioned by Lizarraga is an improved backstop and/or screens to keep from losing balls that are hit foul into two neighboring properties that are fenced off. These are the Colorado Springs Utilities property (off the first-base line) and a gated subdivision (off the third-base line).
       Thanks to initial donations from “the community, friends, and family,” the scholarship fund already has $14,000, but supporters want to build it to the point where it's self-sustaining, Lizarraga said. A step in this direction is the Tom Rogers Scholarship Fund Gold Classic and Casino Night May 13-14 at the Kissing Camels Country Club and Garden of the Gods Club.

While teammates watch from the first-base dugout, Coronado High School batter Brennan Augustine loads the bases with a single to right field during a game against Rampart this week at the Cougar diamond. The location at the northwest corner of the school property often results in unretrievable foul balls that go into the fenced-off properties beyond the first- and third-base lines.
Westside Pioneer photo

       According to Lizarraga and tournament director Kevin Darrow (also part of the Coronado coaching staff), the event will feature participation from former Major League baseball players, with the plan to have at least one in each foursome. Some that have already signed on are Bob Knepper, Mike Myers, Jim Todd, Frank Kostro and John Burke (who went to Cherry Creek High School), Darrow said.
       People who would like to participate need to sign up in advance. The entry fee for the golf tournament is $250 a person, and the cost for the Casino Night is $80 a person ($60 per guest). For more information, contact Darrow at 487-5723 or darroka@d11.org. The entry deadline is May 1.
       Lizarraga, who knew Rogers well, complimented his late friend's diligence. Speaking of the Cliff Dwellings, which Rogers had bought in the 1980s, the coach said, “he turned it into a high-level facility,” then added, “that's what we want to get our baseball field to.”
       The entrepreneur's ties with baseball and Coronado are readily explainable. Not only did the Rogers family live on the Westside, his wife Donna was a Coronado graduate. And, according to Lizarraga and Darrow, he was a baseball fanatic who routinely attended Major League fantasy camps.
       Another highlight of Rogers' personality was his generosity. “He helped everyone,” Lizarraga said, giving an example of the time when Rogers dropped what he was doing (including the hot take-out dinner he'd just bought) to help a stranger with car trouble outside a restaurant.
       “He's gone,” Lizarraga said of his old friend, “but his spirit isn't.”

Westside Pioneer article