Roberts caps IR athletic career with second state championship
Indian River High School senior and multi-sport athlete Tim Roberts is driven by competition. It’s the reason he plays three varsity sports for the Indians — two of which compete in the same season.
It’s the reason that he spent the entire summer running routes on the beach and established himself as a key player on offense, defense and special teams this fall for the Indians’ football team.
And it’s certainly the reason that he recently accomplished something that only a select few Indian River athletes have ever been able to — winning not one, but two state championships in his high school athletic career.
Roberts was a sophomore on the 2011 State Championship football team lead by Jamie Jarmon, and though he was just an underclassman, he contributed as a safety and has the stats to prove it.
Last weekend, however, Roberts won first place at the DIAA State Championships for track in the high jump — with no help from Jarmon, or anyone else except his own unwavering competitive drive.
“In the 100, I might not run the fastest, but if the person in front of me has a ball and they’re about to get a touchdown, I will catch them, almost every time,” Roberts explained. “Whatever the person in front of me jumps, I just jump one better.”
Jumping better was also the theme of his high school track career. As a freshman, he made the preliminaries in the state championship. During his sophomore year, he placed third in the high jump. His junior year, he took second, only to return his senior year to place one better one more time and earn a first-place medal.
“Each year I got second to a different person, it made me feel like it’s me not being good enough,” he said. “I was sick of getting second and third for states. I wanted to prove myself.”
Roberts also had to prove himself on the football field. After earning a starting role as a junior, Roberts was soon overshadowed by standout Marquel Knight. While the situation frustrated him at the time, it eventually fueled him to work even harder.
“Looking back, that was probably the smart decision — my pass coverage wasn’t good, I was missing tackles, being nervous because I was starting at this point,” he recalled. “Marquel started starting over me.”
That summer, Roberts knew that he had to do something to better his offensive skillset for the upcoming fall season.
“This summer, I worked on the beach almost every day. I ran pass routes,” he explained. “I’d catch a ball and say it wasn’t a good enough catch. I need to run it again. I’d run each pattern five times, so every day I ran about 100 patterns.
“My whole goal this season was for my routes to be so crisp that [quarterback] Spencer [Murray] could be blindfolded and know where I was the whole time.”
As a result, Roberts went from watching Knight from the bench to never leaving the field — leading the Indians’ defense in tackles with 89 and interceptions with six, racking up 23 receptions for 505 yards and five touchdowns on offense, and returning two kickoffs for touchdowns on special teams.
Not only did his senior campaign earn him All-State and First Team All-Conference honors, but his efforts also helped lead the Indians to their third consecutive Henlopen South Title — every one of which Roberts has been a part of.
Even after all the accolades on the gridiron, Roberts carried that same competitive drive into the spring, where not only did he win a state championship in track, but he also helped the Indians’ lacrosse team to their first DIAA playoff appearance in program history.
But just because he wanted to help both teams in every athletic event doesn’t mean that he was allowed to. According to DIAA rules, athletes are only permitted to participate in three athletic events per week — which meant that, on two occasions, Roberts had to skip a track meet.
“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t supposed to have to make a choice, but then with the rain and everything, games got rescheduled. DIAA really started cracking down on the rules,” he said of the frustration involved in being restricted from helping his team. “I’m very close with my track coach, Coach Hahn. I’ve known their family most of my life. It felt really bad to be skipping meets to go to [lacrosse] games.”
Having risen to the challenges he’s faced throughout his career, Roberts will graduate from Indian River High School with two state championships, multiple Henlopen South titles, and All-Conference and All-State honors, and as a member of the Indians’ first varsity and DIAA playoff lacrosse team.
However, after years of football, track, lacrosse, pickup basketball, and even as member of the Catch Surf flow team for skimboarding, Roberts will enroll at the University of Delaware in the fall and, for the first time ever, not play a sport.
Instead, Roberts plans to focus on his academics as he works toward the goal of being admitted to the United States Naval Academy, so he can fulfill his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer.
As his focus changes, so will his mindset. Instead of being driven by the level of competition that others present, he will only be in competition with himself, as he strives to be better academically than he was the day before.
“My goal is to be as competitive as I can with myself and try to get the best grades that I can possibly get,” he explained. “As much of a competitor as I am in sports, I should have shown that in the classroom [during high school], and I didn’t.”
Whether or not Roberts will accomplish his new goal remains to be seen, but if his efforts in the classroom turn out to be anything like they have been in sports, the odds are certainly in his favor.