Roger Erricker, who coached Towson University’s cross country and track programs for three decades, passed away at his Bel Air home last Sunday from cancer. He was 67-years-old.
One of the longest serving coaches in Towson’s athletics history, Roger coached the Tigers’ cross country, outdoor and indoor track teams for 30 years before retiring in 2015. Only Donald “Doc” Minnegan (39 years/soccer), Carl Runk (31 years/lacrosse), and Frank Olszewski (31 years/soccer) had longer tenures.
In 1978 Roger won the Mason-Dixon Conference indoor high jump title while competing in the Towson Center for his alma mater, Frostburg State. Seven years later he returned to the Towson campus to coach Towson’s men’s and a three-year-old women’s cross country team and assist with indoor and outdoor track. In 1986 he assumed the added responsibility of directing track and field, overseeing six varsity squads. After the 2003-04 year the University discontinued men’s competition in those three sports allowing Roger to concentrate on building the women’s programs.
“He was like a father to me,” says Kelly Robinson, a record-setting javelin thrower and NCAA qualifier. ”Here you are away at college, you don’t have your parents. He literally took care of me like I was his daughter. He and Liz never had any children but every single one of his athletes were his kids and he always treated us that way. He was a phenomenal coach, teacher, mentor, father figure and friend. It’s been so heartbreaking. He had a huge impact on our lives.”
Under his tutelage a number of student-athletes enjoyed successful careers at Towson. The only four track and field women in Towson’s athletics Hall of Fame – Vikki Benhardt Epps, Teri Campbell Travers, Kelly Robinson and Maureen Shaneman Hall, competed on Roger’s watch. His rosters included three NCAA Division I Championship competitors in high jumper Laura Passalacqua, javelin thrower Robinson and hurdler Ashley Adams who also became the first Tiger to capture the ECAC Indoor Pentathlon title.
To help celebrate Roger’s 25th anniversary season the 2009-10 outdoor track squad, on the way to breaking 14 school records, presented him with a surprise third place finish in the very competitive Colonial Athletic Association Championship Meet with Adams leading the way. She remains the only Tiger to be named CAA Track Athlete of the Year in Towson’s 20-year CAA history.
Academically Roger’s teams performed above the bar. Cross country customarily perched itself on the top rung of the athletic department’s semester grade point average ladder. In 2010 Towson ranked 14th nationally among 151 schools on the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s Division I All-Academic Scholar teams list. Tiger captain Brandi Gervais graduated with a four-year perfect 4.0 GPA and was awarded an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship recipient, one of only six in Towson’s athletics history.
Born in Taunton, UK, Roger came to the United States as a toddler. His young life was spent primarily in Virginia before his family settled in Montgomery County where Roger attended Gaithersburg High School, winning the Maryland state high jump title with a 6-6 leap. Following a year at Charleston Southern he transferred to Montgomery Community College, capturing the Eastern Junior College high jump championship. In 1979 he earned his degree in History and Social Science at Frostburg State where he set the high jump program record of 6-7.
After graduation Roger followed in his father’s footsteps as a huntsman and caring for fox hounds at Andrews Bridge Fox Hunt Club in Lancaster County, Pa. and the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Club in Monkton. Four years later he accepted a position at Howard High School where he coached track for three years. His 1985 squad won the Maryland state boys high school championship. On the girls’ side Laurie Governor won the state shot put title with a record throw that stood for over a decade.
Upon retirement Roger, who also taught part-time at Towson, continued to coach, assisting programs at Stevenson University, Goucher College and Fallston High School.
“Roger was very passionate about his coaching,” says Liz, his college sweetheart and wife of 38 years. “He had a very close relationship with his athletes and over the years has stayed in touch with many of them.”
A Washington Redskins and New York Yankees fan, Roger and Liz vacationed each summer in New England and based out of Loon Mountain in Lincoln, N.H. “Roger always marveled at the beauty of the mountains,” Liz says. “While we were in New Hampshire we would travel to Maine, Vermont and Upstate New York for the views, and the lobster.”
In addition to his wife, Roger is survived by his sisters Lesley Hower of Winchester, Va. and Paula Hagan of Gaithersburg, and a brother, Ian Erricker of Point of Rocks (Frederick County), and numerous in-laws, nieces and nephews.
A celebration of life is planned for Friday, September 24 at the Fallston United Methodist Church located at 1509 Fallston Rd. The family will receive well wishers at 12:00 noon followed by a service (masks required). In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Humane Society of Harford County, plant a tree or a favorite organization.
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