Roberts Family endows position in memory of former Catholic University Women’s Basketball coach

Last month, the family of former Catholic University coach Jamie L. Roberts pledged $1 million to endow a women’s basketball assistant coaching position, the first of its kind at the University. The Jamie L. Roberts Endowed Assistant Coach Fund will honor the lasting impact Jamie Roberts made on the University’s athletics program.

Roberts joined the Cardinal community in 2011 as an assistant women’s basketball coach and she also served as a valuable contributor on the University’s Athletics Communications staff. She helped lead three teams to back-to-back championships (2012, 2013, and 2014). Those teams included a number of players she recruited for the program.

She took the lead on the team’s involvement in community engagement and outreach, particularly by uplifting those in the community through basketball camps, clinics, and tournaments. Roberts also worked with Head Coach Matt Donohue to emphasize cultural engagement and learning for their players, often integrating those experiences into the team’s travel schedule.

“Jamie taught our players game skills on the court, but so much of her position was really helping them grow and mentoring them, helping them to navigate the everyday struggles they would encounter.”

— Matt Donohue

In the summer of 2014, Roberts’ life was tragically cut short when she was struck by a car while participating in a cross-country bicycle ride raising funds to support young adults impacted by cancer.

“She was only 24 years old, but she had already made an indelible impression not just at the University, but throughout the Washington, D.C., community,” said Sean Sullivan, University associate vice president and director of athletics.

Now, thanks to the generosity of Eveline and Bob Roberts and their family, her legacy will live on at Catholic University through the Jamie L. Roberts Endowed Assistant Coach Fund. This full-time position for the women’s basketball program will focus on carrying out the work Jamie began — recruiting and developing young leaders, engaging with the community, and creating meaningful experiences for the team outside the sport of basketball. In addition, they will continue Roberts’ work as a mentor by spearheading the team’s youth camps and clinics.

“Jamie’s warmth and selflessness helped transform the lives of the young women she coached, and her spirit will live on through our women’s basketball program thanks to the generosity of her family. This gift will enable Catholic Athletics to support student-athletes in the same way Jamie approached her role as a mentor — with a level of caring that bettered the lives of those around her.”

— Sean Sullivan

Roberts’ vibrant spirit also lives on through the many players she coached. These young women keep her memory alive, and they are happy to see their feelings echoed by the University.

“She was so much more than a coach. When she passed, we lost a friend, a family member, and a source of inspiration,” said Jayni Webster, B.A. 2016, a member of the last team Jamie coached. “For these reasons, and so many more, it has become imperative for all of us who spent time with her to not only remember who she was, but what she was to all of us, and what Catholic University was to her.”

Photo: Jamie Roberts cuts the net after Catholic University defeated McDaniel 75-63 to win the Eastern College Athletics Conference championship on March 9, 2014.