Lance Roberts gets Coach of the Week

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Coach of the Week Lance Roberts stands in front of his classrom white board, Although he is known as a coach and athletic director, roles he values greatly, Roberts was voted by South Pointe Faculty as their 2012-2013 Teacher of tge Year and he is treasured as a dad and husband.

                               

            It’s a warm fall Thursday afternoon, and Lance Roberts runs out on the field with his boys. One minute until kick off and the coaches stand behind the thick white line separating them and the play.

            Roberts has been South Pointe’s head ninth grade football coach for two years. Although he’s worked as a coach for over 20 years, game time jitters overwhelm him as the kick is made.

            The Stallions bring home a win for their school, as expected. Regardless of the fact that each year’s team is full of inexperienced young boys, the ninth grade coaches have led the teams to victory for all but two games in the past seven years.

            Happy about the win, Roberts exits the field, hugging on the boys and telling them how proud he is.  What once was a group of mismatched freshman from at least three different middle schools has become a team. Roberts just may be the perfect person for helping them make the transition to the new school.

             In 1976 the petite blonde-headed boy opened the doors of Dora Jones Gale Elementary School. Afraid and trembling with fear, Lance, coming from a predominately white school, stared at the dark unwelcoming faces that surrounded him.

            Lance’s family had moved across the country from Dixon, Calif., to Chester, and it was his first day of school. Being a young boy of course Lance was excited about starting over at a new school; however, the feelings of fear and anxiety overwhelmed him as he stepped into this new place.

            When his family was making their way across the country on the trip to from California to South Carolina, they had stopped in Nashville and Lance had asked his mom and dad for some change to get a snack. He had run into the small convenience store when he saw it… A Lance Cracker Machine. Amazed, the young boy ran back outside to his parents telling them about his new finding and that he was famous.

            On his first day at the new school, Lance remembers a large African American girl walking up to him and saying “What’s up, cracka?” Confused and thinking the girl was talking about the Lance Cracker Machine, Roberts grinned and replied, “How do you know me?”

            The girl, thinking he was being a smart alleck, began pulling him to the ground and attempted to beat him up. However, Lance was saved by Clarence Fredrick, a young black boy who remained Lance’s best friend until they graduated.

            The Roberts family had lived in a town with only one African American family, but in Chester the ratio of black and whites was about 50:50. Of course, this was new to Roberts, but he accepted and cherished the culture difference, especially his friendship with Clarence.

            Roberts has lived the remainder of his life in the small empty town of Chester. When he was nine, he attended his first Clemson game. The following year his parents bought season football tickets and after that he was stuck. Robert’s love and passion for the Tigers began at a young age and grew more and more as the years went by.

            He graduated from Chester High School and attended ClemsonUniversity, where he worked as a football manager.

             Roberts quickly learned how hard of a job he had taken but also how rewarding it was. This was the first time Roberts spent a football game behind that thick white line. As a manager he spent time helping coaches with whatever they needed. For example, he handled all equipment, helped with plays, and was responsible for other various duties.

            Roberts says his greatest memory of being a manager is flying a jet down to Anniston Ala., on a Wednesday night in January with two other managers, who were also his roommates. The students were asked by Clemson’s head coach Danny Ford to drive his car back to Clemson so the coach could ride the jet back. They were each paid a couple 100 dollars and each gained a precious memory made with their two best friends.

            Although Roberts only spent four years working as a manager, it was something that impacted and developed him into the hard-working, football-loving coach he is today. He says being a manager was the one thing that inspired him to become a coach one day.

            After his college days were over, Lance moved with his wife Laura, whom he met at Clemson, back to Chester, where they built their house they still live in today. Roberts taught and coached football as well as softball for 15 years at Chester High. Then, he knew he needed a change.

            Roberts had heard about a new school being built just 30 minutes away from Chester in Rock Hill and decided to email the soon-to-be principal, Al Leonard.

            Coincidentally, Leonard was on a team of administrators who were observing CHS teachers and the principal got put into Coach Robert’s room. Leonard was then extremely interested in having Roberts work at his school.

            Roberts just had to make the decision.  

            Stay with the men and woman he had made friendships with in the past 15 years and venture out and make new ones?

            Continue coaching his very successful football and softball teams or start over with a brand new program?

            Roberts’ final decision was to move to South Pointe. When asked if he has any regrets about the decision he answered, “Nope. None at all. I just needed some change.”

            Roberts remembers his first week at South Pointe like it was yesterday and reminisces about how excited and anxious he was. A completely new school, with completely new students and completely new teachers was definitely something everyone had to get used to.

            Although still fairly new South Pointe has grown into a wonderful school constantly striving for excellence, Roberts believes.

            Roberts can be found from Monday through Friday in B123 where he teaches South Pointe 101, a mental health class based on the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. Roberts claims that the class doesn’t just teach the kids, he’s learning new things too, each and every day.

            Not only does Roberts serve as a teacher and coach he is also assistant athletic director and works with athletes of all different sports around South Pointe. Having this job gives Roberts a few more responsibilities than the average coach. He has had various duties throughout the years such as announcing basketball games, working soccer games and working with player eligibility.

            Roberts is a strong believer that sports play an important role in young people’s lives.

            “Sports give kids incredible confidence, it’s a tremendous relationship builder, and it helps young people learn to prioritize while they are in season. Contrary to what most people think, I believe athletes do better in school while they are in season rather than out of season,” Roberts said.

            He’s a coach, a teacher, and assistant athletic director, but Roberts says his most important job is being a husband and dad. Family is one thing extremely close to Roberts’ heart, especially his wife Laura.

             “I met her at a little get together when we were freshman. We both didn’t pay much attention to one another. That spring we had geology together and just happened to sit next to each other,” said Roberts. The two young college kids became best friends and neighbors their sophomore year of college.

            Eventually Lance asked her out on a date and took her to a Chinese restaurant, where they shared a “poo-poo platter,” and then to a movie.

            The two dated throughout their junior and senior year and in the summer both spent countless hours driving across the state from Chester to Myrtle Beach, her hometown, to see one another.

            Lance and Laura will celebrate their 23th wedding anniversary this June and they say things have been going pretty well. They have three kids: Grant, a Clemson University sophomore; Taylor, a sophomore Stallion; and Darcy, a seventh grader at ChesterMiddle School. Roberts says being a dad is the greatest job in the world.  “He’s silly and loves making jokes, but the one thing that makes him so special is how much he cares about everyone,” said Roberts’s daughter Taylor.

            On any given Saturday in the fall, Roberts and his family can be found in Clemson cheering on their Tigers.

            Roberts has been to 301 Clemson football games, which includes 24 bowl games and one National Championship, and he doesn’t plan on changing this tradition any time soon.

            Tailgating before the game is always something the Roberts family has to look forward to. Lance’s entire family, including his parents, brother, sister and each of their families gathers at their tent located right outside of Death Valley each Saturday morning and spends time eating good food with good people and enjoying the time they have together.

            The Roberts enter the stadium an hour before game time and Lance watches his son, Grant, a manager just like he was, warm up with the team like he did years ago. The Tigers run down the hill and the game, full of anxiety and excitement, begins.

            The Tigers score and the crowd goes wild. Looking around Lance smiles as he takes a moment to appreciate how blessed he is. Surrounded by his family in Clemson, Roberts says it can’t possibly get better than this.

Article by Taylor Roberts, contributor