It’s not been an easy August for the guy often referred to as the "Rock" of the ECU football coaching staff.
Defensive line coach Thomas "Rock" Roggeman, beginning his fifth season on the staff, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in preseason and is undergoing treatment at the Leo Jenkins Cancer Center at the ECU Medical School as the Pirates prepare for their Sept. 5 opening game against Appalachian State.
"Rock, being Rock, says his situation 'just isn’t that big a deal,' " defensive coordinator Greg Hudson said. "And it’s for sure, the [chemotherapy treatment] has had absolutely zero impact on his voice volume. He’s a battler in the finest Notre Dame tradition. You know he’s out there pushing his guys to improve day after day."
Roggeman, 46, was an Irish player in the mid 1980s and worked under former Notre Dame head coaches Gerry Faust and Lou Holtz.
At ECU, Roggeman has been instrumental in the development of several standout players, including current preseason all-star candidates Van Eskridge and C.J. Wilson. The Pirate defensive line in 2008 was generally rated as the best in Conference USA.
"Those guys have a special bond with Rock," Hudson said. "When he has to go in for treatment, they go over to the med center to get in a little reverse coaching on him. It's an unusual dynamic to be around. Those guys care about each over."
Hudson said Roggeman has missed virtually no coaching time and that the defensive line has been consistently graded out well in preseason drills.
"No one has missed the first lick," Hudson said.