Let your voice be heard

Stephen Coleman/Gazette

Lorie Rogan sits opposite the Lady Hornets bench during the MIAA Tournament in Kansas City last weekend. Rogan, has been an avid and quite "vocal" supporter of the Emporia State women's basketball program for almost 20 years.

For someone that is so vocal, Lorie Rogan doesn’t embrace the limelight, nor does she seek it.

That said, if one was to attend an Emporia State Lady Hornets home game, or nearby postseason affair, she’s impossible to miss.

All because of two simple, yet distinct words: “Go Emporia!”

She doesn’t remember when, specifically, it started or exactly how.

She only knows she’s been doing it a long time and hopes to be doing it for a long time to come.

“Her voice is just...it feels like home,” senior guard Jocelyn Cummings said. “Even when we were in Kansas City, you’d just hear ‘Go Emporia’ and the whole crowd just echo her back. It’s a unique experience that I don’t think a lot of places have. It’s one of a kind for sure.”

It all just came about to break the silence often after tipoffs or timeouts.

“It was probably at some point, and because I am a big mouth it came out loud, that I had just decided to yell because it was quiet,” Rogan said. “It frustrates me sometimes, that it feels like a library. It’s a sporting event. I’ll look around and I know the fans love the Lady Hornets but I wish they’d show it a little more. Even up at the (MIAA) championship game I was watching them and I was watching (the fans sitting across the court) and I was like ‘come on, get up, get excited.’ So I do my part when it’s quiet. I can’t tell you where it began.”

One thing is for certain. It’s held up for about 15 years, under three Emporia State coaches, and has evolved over time. She doesn’t shout solo any longer, as the last two years have brought additions to the bellow.

“I didn’t care (about being the only voice). I didn’t pay attention, I really, honestly do not pay attention. When I yell, I yell and then I am so focused on watching that I don’t pay attention. I did notice last year when I said it and the band echoed me back. For awhile it was three-tiered. Now I like the way it is. I say it and then the band and everybody echoes it and I think that’s kind of cool.”

With the Hornet faithful pitching in their voices to two of the easiest words for them to say, it helps add to the lore of White Auditorium’s history.

“Everybody knows her,” ESU head coach Jory Collins said. “If they don’t know her name, they know her ‘Go Emporia’ chant. I think our kids love it and the fans love it. It kind of gets everybody going. We have a lot of great supporters and fans and obviously Lorie is a tremendous one. More and more people have gotten involved in it. I heard some opposing fans talk about it. They always know when they’re at an Emporia game because of the ‘Go Emporia’ chant.”

Collins, who started out with Emporia State as a student assistant in the 2000-01 season, said he doesn’t recall life without it ringing through the air.

“I just always remember hearing it at timeouts and things like that so I think it’s cool.”

Rogan, a retired paraprofessional and teachers aide, fell in love with basketball at a young age. From Long Island, New York, she attended college in the northeast when she had some friends transfer to Emporia. They talked her into coming out for a visit over spring break.

“I thought (Kansas) was so different from anything I’d ever known,” she said. “Of course I’m 19 years old at the time, so I decided ‘okay, I’ll transfer.’ I did and within six months they were back in New York and I stayed and that was 1975. I was going to stay two years, and I’m still here.”

Though she wanted to play, scholarships weren’t available for female athletes at that time, so she shied away from going to very many games early on. After helping coach basketball and volleyball at Emporia High in the 1980’s, she started going back with more frequency in 1997.

From there on, she got hooked.

“It was the year before they had their 33-game win-streak snapped (by) North Dakota,” she said. “That’s when I really started watching. Cindy Stein was coaching, and that’s really when I started watching faithfully. I’ve stuck with it ever since.”

Rogan, though she has gone on the road in the past, rarely does in the regular season. She’s a fixture at White Auditorium and in as many postseason games as she can make.

Unlike many retirees, she doesn’t have a lot of spare time.

She is heavily involved with her church in classes and prayer groups as well as visiting Flint Hills Care residents, taking multiple daily visits to Genesis Gym and functions as guardian to three individuals with disabilities.

Not much spare time indeed.

“You’d think that being retired, that wouldn’t be the case, but I don’t have (much) time,” she said. “I don’t have time to do everything I want to do. My (big) splurge is season tickets for the Lady Hornets.”

She doesn’t stick strictly to ESU basketball games, but that sport, far more than any other, is where her passion lies.

“Basketball is my love,” she said. “Basketball was the sport, I’m convinced, had there been women’s scholarships back when I graduated high school I certainly would have gone on a scholarship to play basketball. I ate, slept, dreamt basketball.”

So during the regular season she sits in the front row, just up and to the left of the Emporia State bench, and tries to help maintain some of the electricity that drew her in years ago.

“It was exciting (in 1998),” she said. “There was something different, the atmosphere in (White) during the buildup to that year. It was different than anywhere else I’d experienced. I’ve been to bigger schools and I’ve sat in bigger auditoriums and arenas. But I didn’t ever feel, in those other places, the excitement that you feel on a personal level. All of my family lives on the east coast with Division I schools. ‘You’ve got to come see this, you’ve got to come see that.’ It’s not about the size, it’s not about getting to see the big stage. It’s really about the connection with the players, the team, the community; that’s what I love.”

Her ability to connect with players has stuck for the duration of her time, as she continues to keep in touch with former players, even those overseas, using Facebook.

“Not to mention it’s easy to find a parking spot.”

No matter the parking availability, Rogan says she’ll be joining the Lady Hornet faithful at Lee Arena this weekend as long as Emporia State is present at the Division II Central Regional Tournament which is being played at Washburn. Though she admits to avoiding the Lady Blues’ venue during the regular season,  

“When all the marbles are on the line, I have to go,” she said.

When asked about her fondest memories involving the Lady Hornets, Rogan could recall the 2010 National Championship game as well as a classic game at White Auditorium.

In 2006, Emporia State was down six to Missouri Western with eight seconds left. It rallied to tie the game and won it in overtime.

Later that season the Lady Hornets snapped Washburn’s 52-game winning streak after trailing by 11 at the half in the Regional Championship game.

Rogan was there for all three, but had trouble narrowing it down.

“There are so many (memories),” she said. “But beating Washburn is always a highlight.”

So with the Lady Hornets set to play a regional matchup against the Lady Blues for the second straight season — a game which tips at 6 p.m. tonight at Lee Arena — and with ESU having won five straight games, she is looking for a big night from her team.

But she doesn’t need to say much on that.

It’s precise, to the point. She loves her Lady Hornets.

“Goooo Emporrriaaaaaaa!”

(2) comments

Hananova

Thank you, Gazette, I didn't know if it was a woman or a man, and I'm not going to stare.

Anyway, she has a world-class voice!

Denise Dorcey

Lorie Rogan is one cool lady![smile]

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