Turning 21 During a Pandemic

Sam Rogers found a way to have low key fun on his birthday.

On some lost count of day in the midst of a global pandemic, Defiance captain and loveable centerback giant Sam Rogers turned 21 years of age. He’s one of several Tacoma Defiance players who celebrated differently in 2020 than any other year.

Still, Big Sam made the best of it – distantly.

“It wasn’t anything super exciting; everything was closed, so I couldn’t go out and about.”

Like so many, Rogers and his family found a way to adapt from the typical celebrations to something influenced by our times.

“It was pretty relaxed. I saw some friends, had dinner. It was fun, but low key.”

Between YouTube videos of golfers and games of Madden, Rogers is keeping to a soccer routine that involves two focuses – watching defenders in other leagues to keep tactically aware and physical training to improve his reactions.

“With ball work by yourself you can only do so much.”

Nearing 5,000 minutes of professional play, Sam wants to take the pause in the action to “look forward” towards a return to play. He’s asked for extra work from the training staff. When he takes the pitch again he wants his “hips to explode” cutting down on response times in one-on-one challenges.

He’ll be fine-tuned by studying the globe’s greats.

“You can always gain more knowledge by watching other leagues around the world. I focus on specific players in my position and especially their movement off the ball and their process.”

Defiance returned to Starfire for their practices, but they are doing so as individuals with dozens of yards between players and no passing the ball to each other.

Training is safe and distant, just like a 21st birthday in the time of COVID-19.



TV Show: Stranger Things, The Society

Movies: Jo Jo Rabbit

Books: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Videogames: Madden, Fortnite

Activity: Settlers of Catan

Food: Cobb Salad


Read about what the players, coaches, and staff at Cheney Stadium are doing while they Stay Home, Stay Healthy.



Tacoma Defiance is the USL Championship affiliate of reigning MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders FC. You can follow The Future of Champions on Twitter (@TACDefiance)Facebook, and Instagram (@tacdefiance). We are #DefiantlyTacoma.


The Tacoma Team Store is open, online. Grab your Defiance ‘fit, and follow the team store on Instagram and Twitter.


More information on social distancing and how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can be found at Tacoma-Pierce County Health. The most up-to-date information on how COVID-19 is affecting events at Cheney Stadium can be found here.