Story By: Cindy Burbage
Photos By: Shelia Scott
The Pooler Recreation Department takes pride in their array of programs and thrives from the help of their dedicated volunteers. Meet long time Pooler resident, Roger Hazelwood, known around the rec department as simply Coach Rog. “This was given to me by one of the great coaches in the Pooler area, Coach Stallcup, from his son Stone Stallcup,” Roger reminisced.
Roger has lived in Pooler for the past eight years with his charming family, a wife and two daughters. He dotingly shared, “I am a devoted husband to my lovely wife Dawna Hazelwood. We have been together for a little over 9 years. I am also a proud parent of two beautiful girls name Alyssa and Aniyah.”
His childhood would prove to mold him into the coach that he is today. “I come from a military family,” Roger enlightened. “My father served for just under 14 years of service. Through that time I traveled to many places around the world before landing in Georgia in 1992. I spent the remainder of my early adolescence in the city of Richmond Hill, where I flourished my basketball talents into getting a scholarship at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga. While in college, I was a two sport athlete in basketball and cross country. Once I graduated, I was able to spend some time getting involved with kids at The Landings Club on Skidaway Island; being there I realized that I had a niche for teaching and coaching kids through physical health.”
Although his experience at The Landings Club revealed his forte with teaching children, coaching children was not on Coach Rog’s initial agenda. “I truly did not have the desire of coaching until 2015, when one of the coaches was battling with cancer. She was such sweet lady. She just looked at me and said, ‘You look like you know a little bit about soccer.’ She basically turned the whistle and ball over to me, I came into this sport like a deer in head lights. But within that first season, it was my oldest daughter’s second season playing and I naturally gravitated to it. The kids that play this sport make it very fun for me (U6).” The coach admitted that he even lets his little players choose the names of their soccer team.
Roger Hazelwood got his start in coaching with the U6 group, which is typically pre-kindergarten and kindergarten age children. He has been coaching soccer for the past four seasons for U6 and the mentor also has one season of U8 age group under his belt.
Soccer is not the only sport that the coach is involved in at the rec department. This summer he will be back to his childhood roots with basketball and noted, “I just started coaching summer basketball this year; hoping to get my feet a little wet for the fall season!”
Coach Rog’s passion for the Pooler Recreation Department and their sports stems from his childhood. “I was a well-rounded kid. I played Baseball, Basketball and Track-n-Fields. I love that kids come out and become active, outside individuals, and not sit under the television playing video games.”
Inspiration is what puts the wind in our sails to succeed at anything we do in life; it’s that motivation that gets us up in the morning to face the world. Where does Roger Hazelwood get his inspiration to coach children? He candidly answered, “My daughters keep me inspired.”