2020 Preview: UW Freshman OL Roger Rosengarten is at his Best in a Big Game
Football wasn't even Roger Rosengarten's first love.
Basketball was, then it was baseball, soccer and flag football. Finally, he pulled on some pads.
"I started to coach him in basketball when he was two and a half years old," said his father Ray Rosengarten, noting that the Littleton, Colorado, YMCA had a league for toddlers.
As the seasons changed, the incoming University of Washington freshman found himself with a bat in his hands and baseball became his passion. Whichever sport was in season, Roger loved it and excelled at it, including flag football.
Still, Rosengarten declined to play tackle football whenever his dad asked him about it. When Roger was 7, Ray enlisted the help of another player's dad.
Ray Rosengarten stood back and laughed as the other dad put peer pressure to Roger to compel him to join the team.
"Your buddies are going to play," the father told him.
Young Rosengarten finally relented and discovered that he was fairly adept at the game, though his dad tells a different story.
"He dominated," Ray Rosengarten said.
Still, Roger Rosengarten's love for baseball remained strong. He continued to play basketball and football at a high level. In the summer before he entered high school, his baseball team made it to the Colorado USSSA state championship game.
Late in the final game, the other team's best pitcher snuck a fastball by Roger and thought he could do it again. Costly mistake. Home run.
"You're thinking, 'Home run, so what?' " the elder Rosengarten said. "There are two fences in center field. The first fence is 10 feet tall and 398 feet from home plate. The second fence is further back and is 30 feet high."
Estimates are that the eighth-grader's ball traveled 430 feet.
Entering Valor Christian High School in Highlands Park, Colorado, Rosengarten played on as a three-sport athlete. However, he stood out in football to his position coaches, Ben Hamilton and Tyler Polumbus. Both were NFL veterans who had played for the Denver Broncos.
"I got to learn from the best," Rosengarten said.
Polumbus won a Super Bowl with the Broncos. Among the impressive Valor Christian coaching staff, they have 16 Super Bowl rings.
In Roger's sophomore year, the coaches saw what the Rosengartens' grocery bill was telling them.
"Roger never went on a growth spurt," his father said. "He just grew at a steady pace."
Polumbus saw the athleticism pay off in Roger's footwork, a benefit of the kid being an all-around athlete.
Officially listed at 6-foot-5 by the UW, Rosengarten has continued to grow. He's a shade under 6-7. By the time you finish this article, he might be over 6-7.
In the 2018 Colorado state championship game in football, Roger did some big-game hunting. Valor faced rival Cherry Creek High School, Polumbus' alma mater.
Trailing 21-8 late in the third quarter, Cherry Creek was nearing the Valor red zone when Rosengarten picked off a pass to ensure the 24-14 victory and the state title.
Roger that, too.
When the football season was over, Rosengarten dropped in 3-pointers to take his team to the state quarterfinals in basketball. In the span of a couple of minutes late in the game, he almost single-handedly turned a five-point game into a comfortable victory.
"The big play in that game was when he waited for the ball to get passed in after Valor made a basket," his father said. "Once the guard got it and started to dribble up the court, Roger picked him clean from behind."
The future Husky tackle drove to the hoop, made it, got hacked and hit a free throw. Moments later, he stole the ball again and dropped in a three-point bucket. Shortly after that, Rosengarten took an inbounds pass and found the bottom of the net with a sky hook.
Roger that, as well.
In three of the biggest moments in his athletic career, Roger rose to the occasion and helped power his teams to victories.
He was a big-game hunter — making big plays in big games.