Minoso Rodgers ready to lead Wilson football

Marco Squitieri

One year ago, Minoso Rodgers was beginning offseason training for the first time as head coach of the Wilson Tigers football team. When the world suddenly turned upside down, the man who’d seen it all in football had to adapt like never before.

Coach Rodgers’ journey in football began as a young child playing Pop Warner. After sharpening his skills throughout high school, Rodgers played collegiately at the University of Richmond as a running back. 

Rodgers certainly found success, ranking 9th in career rushing yards in program history. Despite his accomplishments, when his senior season ended, so did his playing career. This seemed like the end of Rodgers’s football story, as he soon entered a career in marketing. Fate took a different turn, pulling Rodgers back to the game as a youth football referee. 

The initial urge to coach found Rodgers during his two years as a ref. “I noticed the interactions I saw between coaches and players were distasteful to me,” Rodgers said. After moving to DC, Rodgers was offered by a friend to coach at a rec center. After taking the opportunity, he was hooked instantly.

Rodgers broke into the high school coaching scene at Friendship Collegiate School under former head coach Aazaar Rahim. The fit was instant with Rahim, who Rodgers considers his greatest influence within his coaching game. Rodgers began working as an assistant coach the day after meeting Rahim, doing anything from taking over strength and conditioning to helping keep lockers in order. 

Rodgers progressed on to become head coach at Ballou. In his first year, he led Ballou to become city and state champions, beating his former team in the State Championship. Rodgers enjoyed consistent success in his three years at Ballou before becoming the head coach of Wilson varsity football in March of 2020. 

For Rodgers, the true joy in coaching comes from guiding student athletes towards the next stage in their life. “You’re taking young men who may be uncertain of themselves, and you build them up to the confidence to go on to the next level,” Rodgers remarked. The first Wednesday of February, national signing day, is more important than winning any game for Rodgers. Seeing his athletes go beyond what they expected of themselves is what Coach Rodgers considers the most rewarding part of his job.

While Coach Rodgers admits that time has run out to play a full season, he has brought forward ideas to get students back into the rhythm of football. Rodgers has proposed adjusting normal seven on seven unpadded spring ball to the college model of full-contact practice. He sees this change as a great way to bring all players back to speed and to give seniors film they can send out to colleges. He is also hopeful a senior bowl can be put together, giving seniors across DC the chance to play high school football one last time. Rodgers says his current focus is re-engaging with his athletes and restarting activities within Wilson facilities.

Communication between coaches and players has never stopped since Rodgers took over. “We’re a 365-day program,” Rodgers explained, “academic tracking is year round, nutrition planning is year round, strength and conditioning is year round.” Since lockdown began in March, Rodgers has regularly met with his players on Zoom. The topics of discussion range from pure x’s and o’s to more serious topics such as mental health, civic engagement, and financial responsibility. His role as the social emotional learning director at Wilson gives Rodgers the perfect skillset to touch on serious topics with his players.

Coach Rodgers sees communication in conjunction with consistency as one of the keys to successful coaching. As Rodgers explained, “I can’t just be a talker, I model everything we do. If you carry yourself a certain way you do it that way.” Another quality important for Coach Rodgers is flexibility. He sees no game plan as perfect and recognizes the importance of adjusting on the fly in football.

When looking towards next school year’s fall season, Coach Rodgers anticipates a more balanced offense than what was displayed in the 2019 season. During their last season, Wilson averaged exactly 100 more rushing yards per game than passing yards per game. Coach Rodgers stressed the importance of the passing game completing the rushing game, and vice versa. His focus in building the offense centers around getting all playmakers involved, and he predicted multiple 500 yard rushers for the Tigers next season.

Every aspect of Coach Rodger’s program falls under the guidance of GRIT. GRIT stands for Greatness, Resilience, Integrity, and Trust. This is the identity the Tigers are being built around under Coach Rodgers, and what he feels will lead them to great success on and off the field.