When he was 4 years old — 23 years ago — Greg Rogowski first wrapped his hands around a lacrosse stick.
Five years ago, the 2005 Christian Brothers Academy graduate led the Merrimack College men’s lacrosse team to its first appearance in the NCAA Division II Final Four.
In his first year on the ballot, the Northeast-10 Conference opened the door last week to the Hall of Fame and welcomed Merrimack’s all-time leading scorer. It was one more instance of the sport giving something back to Rogowski, who said what he has enjoyed most over the last two decades has been his time with his teammates.
“I’ve never been the kind of guy to go back and look at stats or toot my own horn about having this many goals or that many goals,” Rogowski said. “Everything, to me, is about winning games and being part of a team. It’s good to have that individual accolade — it’s an honor and not something I take lightly — but not something I’m going to go crazy about, either. It’s good to have my name on there, but the thing I’m always going to remember is those teammates.”
Rogowski is second all-time on CBA’s goals (187), assists (148) and points (335) lists, behind 2010 graduate Dan Sipperly.
At Merrimack, Rogowski compiled 213 goals, 100 assists and 313 points in 63 games. He is fourth all-time in Division II in points, third in goals and 21st in assists. His 15-game goal streak from March 3 through May 6, 2006, ranks fourth all-time.
In 2009, the team went 14-3 overall, 8-1 in the NE-10. Each of the team’s three losses came at the hands of Le Moyne College. Merrimack lost at home, 5-4, then at Le Moyne in the conference title game, 10-2, then in the Final Four at Le Moyne, 15-5.
“Le Moyne is always a tough place to play at, especially back in those days,” Rogowski said. “They had that old grass field in the back, and it seemed like every time we’d go up there, it’d be raining. We’d be playing in an inch of mud and slipping all over the place. They’ve got a brand-new, nice turf field now, so they don’t have to worry about that, anymore.”
Those rain clouds over Syracuse, though, had a silver lining for Rogowski and the program he left behind. The next season, although Merrimack lost its regular-season game at Le Moyne, it later beat the Dolphins, 12-11, in overtime for the NE-10 championship.
“It was a good stepping stone for the team,” he said. “Guys saw that we could play with them, and the year after that, the team ended up winning the Northeast-10 championship and beating Le Moyne. I think our game added to the team’s confidence in years to come, and I think they’ve been building on that ever since.”
Rogowski has continued to play lacrosse, spending some time in the professional ranks and earning a spot as an alternate for bronze-medalist Team USA for the 2011 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. He and other Merrimack alumni and current players also get together for summer tournaments throughout New England.
Now he plays indoor lacrosse for the Vermont Voyageurs of the Quebec Senior Lacrosse League.
“It’s a totally different game,” he said. “There’s a 30-second shot clock. It’s like a hockey rink with the boards, and we play right on the concrete surface. It’s a much different game than on a field. There’s much more contact, and sometimes they allow fights. Padding is different, the rules are totally different. That’s why it’s fun. It’s a little more challenging. Goalies are a little bigger and look more like hockey goalies. The goals are four-by-four, so not a lot of room to shoot at, but it’s fun.”
It shouldn’t be surprising to see Rogowski still playing the game. Aside from all the memories with his teammates, lacrosse also gave him a leg up toward his degree in civil engineering. Later, through old lacrosse contacts, he landed his job with MJ Engineering in Clifton Park.
Eric Williams, junior varsity coach for Shaker, was among the players sitting around with Rogowski after a tournament game in Connecticut in the summer of 2009. He had been one of the coaches Rogowski had during a summer league with CapitalLand Lacrosse a few years earlier.
“We were sitting there after one of the games, and he said, ‘Hey, you just graduated with a civil engineering degree. You want a job?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ ”
Rogowski said. “Five years later, here I am, same job, same place, doing pretty well and still playing lacrosse. I got recruited to college through lacrosse, so that’s how I got my foot in the door there. I was able to get a pretty good scholarship to Merrimack, I got my civil engineering degree, came home, and through lacrosse, I ended up getting a job. Lacrosse has given me a lot, that’s for sure.”