Rounding the corner of the first lap of her race at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Tuesday evening, Raevyn Rogers was in last place. But back in Houston, her mother knew the first-time Olympian just hadn’t made her big move yet.
“She went through the first lap, and I was still sitting down,” Rhonda Rogers said. “When she started making a move, I stood up. I was talking to the TV like she was right there with me.”
That mother’s intuition proved to be spot on—just a few moments later, the 24-year-old Houstonian pulled ahead and finished third, bringing home the bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics in the Women’s 800-meter race.
“She came from last to third in less than 100 meters,” Rhonda said. “When I saw the results, the tears just came down.”
For the Rogers family, that athletic spirit—and dedication to HISD—is a generational tradition.
Raevyn Rogers’ grandfather worked for HISD as a coach at Jones High School in football, track, and basketball. Her mother carried on that tradition, working first for Scarborough High School as a teacher and a coach, then moving into the district athletics department. Today, she serves as the stadium manager at Barnett Stadium, the first female to ever fill that role for a stadium in HISD. Raevyn is also a product of the district, attending Wharton Dual Language Academy through the 8th grade.
“We’re both coach’s kids,” Rhonda Rogers said. “Sports has been handed down.”
She even credits the teachers at Wharton for giving Raevyn the drive to keep pushing, both in the classroom and on the track.
“This was a big point of pride for our community, including HISD,” Rhonda said. “To this day, on social media, she keeps in contact with her teachers at Wharton, like her 5th grade teacher and her 4th grade teacher.”
Raevyn started track as a young kid, after a failed attempt at t-ball. One of just two girls on that team, her mom said she just sat there “drawing flowers and hearts in the dirt.” When they saw a local track team—Wings Track Club—practicing nearby, Rhonda decided she would sign her daughter up for running instead.
After a rough start (“she would cry at every meet,” her mom said), Raevyn blossomed.
“My father encouraged her to try it one more year, to keep going. That next year, you didn’t see as much crying. It just took off from there. If it had not been for my father, she wouldn’t be the bronze medalist she is today,” Rhonda said of her father, who did not live to see his granddaughter become an Olympic medalist. “The pride that he would have had, it would have been unreal. If he was here, he would do nothing but smile.”
After graduating high school, Raevyn ran track for University of Oregon before eventually going pro, winning silver at last year’s World Championships. From there, she qualified for the 2020 Games. So, what’s next for Raevyn? The international competition is set for Eugene, Oregon next year, with the next Olympics set for Paris in 2024.
Raevyn—and her mom—hope to be at both.