Recently, Catholic University celebrated the installation of its first endowed athletics assistant coach: Bridget Power, B.A. 2017, M.A. 2020, the inaugural Jamie L. Roberts Endowed Assistant Coach for women’s basketball.

Jamie L. Roberts joined Catholic University in 2011 as women’s assistant basketball coach, and helped the team win three back-to-back championships. She also served on the University’s athletics communications staff. Roberts died tragically in 2014 when she was struck by a car while riding her bicycle across the country to help raise funds to benefit the Ulman Foundation, a nonprofit that supports young adults with cancer. She was 24.

The endowed position in her name was created thanks to a generous $1 million gift from the Roberts family.

“Bridget embodies so much of Jamie’s spirit, her values — the commitment to helping young people explore their goals and aspirations, all in an effort to better themselves; that was Jamie, and that is Bridget.”

— Sean Sullivan, associate vice president and director of athletics

“In the circles of academia, installing an endowed professorship or deanship can be somewhat common practice when a suitable gift is received. But within the Division III athletics world, and specifically Catholic University athletics, today’s event is unique, and it represents a new chapter for our department,” said Sean Sullivan, associate vice president and director of athletics. “For the first time, a full-time coaching position has been secured, in perpetuity, due to the generosity, kindness, and forward-thinking of one local family.”

Sullivan said that Jamie’s heart and her caring nature established a warmth that inspired those around her. It’s something the program aspires to maintain today.

“Bridget Power certainly ensures that that warmth is still present within the women’s basketball program. Bridget embodies so much of Jamie’s spirit, her values – the commitment to helping young people explore their goals and aspirations, all in an effort to better themselves; that was Jamie, and that is Bridget,” Sullivan said.

“Like the two good servants in the parable, Jamie used her gifts to build up the world around her, and left an indelible mark on the young women she coached. One of them, Bridget Power, is now following in her footsteps.”

— President John Garvey

Bridget Power with the Roberts family and University leaders

Vice President of Student Affairs Judi Biggs Garbuio assisted Sullivan with the presentation of the endowed position.

“Endowing a coaching position means a team will always have someone in place to help not only mentor student-athletes, but recruit future players and ensure team continuity,” she said. “This coaching position is funded in perpetuity, and will enable much-needed stability in the women's basketball program.”

Accepting the endowed position on behalf of the University, President John Garvey said Jamie was a highly regarded member of the Cardinal family not only as a coach, but as a mentor to the students she encountered.

“They learned from her wisdom, experience, and skill. More than that, they learned by example. Like the two good servants in the parable, Jamie used her gifts to build up the world around her, and left an indelible mark on the young women she coached. One of them, Bridget Power, is now following in her footsteps,” Garvey said. “It is with deep gratitude that I accept this endowed coaching position in her memory. We are grateful to Jamie, whose generous heart continues to leave its mark on The Catholic University of America.”

An audience member reads about Jamie in the program book

“I think the only thing that could have made this moment better would be to have Jamie here in person, although we know that she certainly is here with us spiritually today.”

— Bob Roberts, Jamie's father

Jamie’s father, Bob Roberts, said Women’s Head Basketball Coach Matt Donohue kept his daughter’s memory fresh at the University to help inspire student-athletes on and off the court. Bob added he and his family were happy to honor Jamie through the endowed coaching position.

“The full-time position will provide the chosen person an opportunity to bring Jamie's values and love of basketball full-time to Catholic University while growing Catholic University women's students as basketball players and caring human beings,” Bob said. “We're also pleased that Bridget Power has been chosen as the first person to hold this endowed position since she knew Jamie personally, and now can use her own talents to develop Catholic University women while beginning her own career in basketball coaching. I think the only thing that could have made this moment better would be to have Jamie here in person, although we know that she certainly is here with us spiritually today.”

Power, who was coached by Roberts during her time as a Cardinal, was a member of the Catholic University women’s basketball program between 2013 and 2017. As a senior, she helped the team garner a 23-5 record, an appearance in the Landmark Conference championship game, and a berth in the NCAA Division III women’s basketball championship tournament. She returned to Brookland in 2018 to pursue a master’s degree in secondary education and assist the women’s basketball program.

Bridget Power and Bob Roberts with the women's basketball team

“She embodied what it means to be a good friend, teammate, and colleague. Anyone who knew Jamie would tell you that they could always count on her for a laugh or even just an ear to listen.”

— Bridget Power, B.A. 2017, M.A. 2020, the first Jamie L. Roberts Endowed Assistant Coach for women’s basketball

Power said those lucky to have known Jamie have worked to keep her spirit alive. 

“She embodied what it means to be a good friend, teammate, and colleague. Anyone who knew Jamie would tell you that they could always count on her for a laugh or even just an ear to listen. She could never be defined simply by her skills on the basketball court,” Power said. “Jamie radiated genuine positivity and compassion in everything she did, and I think it would be safe to say those were some of her best qualities. No matter what was going on in her life, she constantly found ways to do more for others.”

Power also recalled that Jamie made it her mission to make every player feel seen and heard.

“I think what has been most amazing about the formation of the Jamie L. Roberts Endowed Assistant Coach position is how seamlessly its purpose has aligned with who Jamie was as a person. Its focus is not only on the logistics of basketball, but more importantly on student-athlete academic success, community service involvement, and the overall health and well-being of each player. This position gives whoever holds it the opportunity to pour themselves into some of the jobs Jamie was best at.”

“Endowing a coaching position means a team will always have someone in place to help not only mentor student-athletes, but recruit future players and ensure team continuity.”

— Judi Biggs Garbuio, vice president of Student Affairs

Power couldn’t thank the Roberts family enough for making her position possible.

“You’ve not only provided a full-time assistant coach, but a built-in mentor to go to with any problems in need of solving or victories in need of celebrating,” she said. “You have made it possible for these young women to find a friend and ally to help guide them through their collegiate experience, just as Jamie did for my teammates and me.”