HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- For nearly a decade, the Highland Springs Girls Basketball team has come close to winning multiple state championships.
In 2020, the Lady Springers, led by eight seniors, won that elusive 1st State Title in Girls Basketball.
Including one whose journey to be on the court, was as challenging as someone trying to score against her.
"She is an athlete that will not take the answer no," said Head Coach Franklin Harris.
Iyanna Rogers was a cornerstone piece of Harris's Highland Springs team that was on a collision course to meet Princess Anne in the Class 5 State Final -- that was until their season was canceled because of COVID-19.
"For me, at least, I knew it was like a little upsetting," said Rogers.
"It was actually the most brutal thing that I've had to tell anybody," said Harris.
The pandemic closed Rogers's High School Basketball career -- one that almost ended before even playing one varsity game.
"I was in the bed and days would go by and I just really sad. And I was like, I got to get up…I gotta get up," said Rogers.
"You get a little bit scared but for the most part, you have to be strong for your kids," said LaShawnda Rogers, Iyanna's mother.
During an AAU Tournament prior to her seventh grade year, Rogers suffered a torn ACL.
"I was playing on it for like two to three weeks. We went back to the doctor and actually found out I tore my ACL," said Rogers.
After several follow-up visits, Rogers and her family received more serious news.
"I went and they took an x-ray of my back and they realized that my spine curvature had increased about 20 to 30 degrees in about a month. And the way that my body worked, it started to curve and they realized it was pressing on my heart. So they were like you have to get the spinal fusion surgery first and then the ACL surgery," said Rogers.
"I went and researched the surgery. And did a YouTube video on what it was like. When I seen it, I didn't want to get her upset in any way. But I was a little upset because you never want to see your child go through anything like that," said Perry Rogers, Iyanna's father.
After a grueling rehabilitation, Iyanna was back on the court for her eigth grade season. She even made the Highland Springs Varsity team as a freshman. Then, disaster struck again.
"I started playing in the summer again and then my ACL tore the summer of my tenth grade year," said Rogers.
Iyanna worked her way back to play a handful of games at the end of her sophomore season. When she returned for her junior year, it was as if she was never injured.
"Most people that had been through the surgery, they kind of show their surgery. But you never saw it with her," said Harris.
"The exercises that I do work on my agility and quickness off the ground. And that's something I really take pride in. And especially with the timing that I do when it comes to blocking shots, really helped with that even more ," said Rogers.
Iyanna averaged nearly 15 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks during Highland Springs State Championship season, in which she was named First Team All-State.
"Meditation and mental strength is what really really helped," said Rogers.
Iyanna's strong season drew interest from several in-state programs. But her dream was to attend an Ivy League school. That became a reality when she signed to play at the University of Pennsylvania.
"Like I had this idea in mind of where I was gonna go. But when I went to Penn, I was like this is for me," said Rogers.
"I thought she would always achieve what she wants to achieve. Whatever Iyanna sets her mind to, she does it," said LaShawnda.
With no senior season to prepare her for college basketball, Iyanna worked out almost daily and actually took up another sport --volleyball. Which to no surprise, she has excelled in.
"Always wanted to play but you know I never had the opportunity because with basketball and school it was back-to-back to back," said Rogers.
"Sports has taught her a whole lot. Surgeries...overcoming those adversities has taught her a lot. And I think it made her even stronger than she already was," said LaShawnda.
"You're not going to tell me I can't do something. I'm a go get it if I want it. And that's a guaranteed fact I know that," said Rogers.