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Sugar Rodgers Never Lets Life Disturb Her Flow

Rodgers has provided a boost to Liberty.


Sugar Rodgers (Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media, LLC)


Not many people in New York knew much about Sugar Rodgers when she arrived last year in a trade with Minnesota Lynx.  Few knew she had already won a WNBA championship and fewer were aware of the extreme peaks and valleys she encountered. If you were to tally up the good and bad in separate piles, Sugar would tell you it’s all semantics.

The shooting guard who is in her second season with the New York Liberty is a self-motivated person who challenges herself to be better and lets life play itself out as she makes no never mind.

When you grow up in a place like Suffolk, Virginia where the numbers to success are not worth posting, you need a break or a miracle. It was provided by Sugar’s parents, especially her mother, who she lost to lupus at 14 and siblings, imperfect in their own rights, to challenge her and not allow her to sink into the background. She would force her to take account of her weaknesses and turn them into strengths.

“My mom would say,  ‘At some point I’m leaving this earth, How you going to keep going?’” said Rodgers.  Sugar never lashed out despite the reverses. “I never blame myself, God, or anyone,” Sugar said. “These are the cards I’m dealt and I have to play the cards. It can go this or that way.”

Sugar saw basketball as a useful ally to navigate the twists and turns. Forget the fact that golf was really her first love. She played for Tiger Woods team and even appeared in a Coca-Cola commercial, but her mother’s passing took away the pleasure of it.

“Basketball was an outlet for me.  It just kept me grounded,” Sugar recalled. “It became about stepping up to the challenge. If it was this I had to get over the hump, getting through all obstacles of life.”

She started to resemble the woman of great quality that gave birth to her and challenged her so. She would always expect nothing less from herself. Sugar dominated high school competition and caught the attention of many colleges. She chose Georgetown. “I had a lot of options but Georgetown seemed to fit me better. The coaching staff, education, being a top three school in the country.” Sugar ran off the reasons, “It was in a location far enough away from home but close enough where I could get back home.”

Sugar also looked to pick a major in an area she struggled with, English. She equated college life to speaking a different language.  But, she expanded her horizons and grabbed on to all opportunities. “I was not a good reader or writer. That was one of the things I wanted to do better,” Rodgers pointed out. “Everyone in my family struggled with reading.  To get a degree, it was a challenge, it was hell, but I like to challenge myself.” It explains why Sugar likes watching documentaries. The desire to broaden her thinking and deepen her mental perspective served as a comfort that her road was far from run alone.

“I like real life stuff to keep me level-headed and grounded on what’s going on in the world,” Sugar shared. “I’m grateful I can get through my problems.”



Sugar Rodgers dribbles the ball in front of an opposing defender. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media, LLC)


Sugar went on to put Georgetown women’s basketball on the map with a surprise Sweet 16 appearance. She scored more points than any woman or for that matter any man in Hoya History. That includes a former NBA great named Patrick Ewing. Soon, it would be draft time and Sugar had great expectations with the WNBA Draft coming up but another rock dropped.  The death of her father was not a shock. It was expected, yet with the second pillar of her young life removed, Sugar had to fend for herself officially now.

“It was a devastating moment but life goes on after death,” explained Rodgers. “It was moments like this that faith becomes important. It’s in God’s hands and all you can do is live life.”

Rodgers was drafted in the second round by Minnesota. She was not pleased. But as she continued to do, she would attack and make things happen. Sugar did not play often but she was part of a team that would capture the WNBA championship.

“I got drafted low for a reason,” she said. “I was drafted number 14, my mother died on July 14, and I wear number 14 so I felt there was some real meaning behind it.”

The reality of a WNBA Player is that Europe is home for half a season or more for many. The gap of money payouts compared to the men is not worth debating.

“We may not be able to dunk like the men but we do all the other things, passing and layups,” she said. “It’s kind of the same. And we have a dunker,” Sugar continued with a laugh. Regardless, the women are not swimming in funds making them aware of cashing in whatever they can command during their playing days. Sugar is definitely such a person. “I like to shop for bargains,” Sugar admitted. “I save a lot. If I see a penny on the ground I pick it up.” Or in many cases finding better money overseas.

Sugar played for Arras in France and no, she did not speak French. She did however find that one friend and technology can get through many a lonely night in another country. “You feel like an outcast and you and the others have hard time understanding each other, “Sugar recalled. “But you find maybe one player who does speak English and you gravitate to them. Then I go home, get on my electronics, and talk to my friends and family.” It’s a lonely life that most WNBA players know all too well.

Now, Sugar thought in her second year she would play more and get to show off her skills in the twin cities. She liked her teammates and had experienced success. But she was informed that she was traded to New York.

“Even though I won a championship, I didn’t get to really get to show what I had,” Sugar explained. “Once I got to New York I got to show what I had and this year even more of what I had to offer.”

The Liberty experience, controlled by veterans like Cappie Pondexter and Plenette Pierson, was not a favorable field to grow for a young player who despite a championship up was far from seasoned. “It was a little tough,” she said. “It was tougher to build that championship mentality when you have a lot of players who haven’t won. I was so young and they assume you already know.”

The New York Liberty changed philosophy and personnel in 2015 and youth and chemistry was paramount. Personality was also as important as skills. Sugar, they noted was one player they needed to make this happen. Sugar has responded.  “The people they brought in, on and off the court have chemistry,” Rodgers said. “We might hang out but when we get on the court we go and play and perform.”


Sugar Rodgers takes a shot. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media, LLC)

Sugar Rodgers takes a shot. (Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media, LLC)


After starting out even and facing their first extended road trip, Sugar, whether starting or off the bench, put up big numbers or key plays at key junctures and the Liberty started winning. At 10-5, and leading the Eastern Conference, the Liberty are nearing the All-Star break with their best start in quite a few years.

Sugar has no doubts about what she wants from her sport at this time and her calm, experienced hand is noticeable on the court with the Liberty playing talented rookies who are willing but not quite fully seasoned. “Everyone wants to in a championship. No one wants to play ten or eleven years without winning one,” Sugar was adamant. “So, it’s all about winning. There are a lot of girls on the New York Liberty that haven’t won. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

It’s no doubt that Sugar can beat the odds. She has done it before and as one of her favorite songs in the timeline of her life says, “Sugar, Sugar, how you get so fly” just read her story and watch her on the court and you learn quickly why. New York City knows why.

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