Roberts hoping to close school on high note - again
If anyone involved in European high school sports is entitled to say “been-there, done-that,” it’s Heidelberg senior middle hitter Emma Roberts.
Roberts, who’ll turn 18 in a couple of weeks, is a captain for the 2012 edition of the Heidelberg volleyball team, the last one ever to wear the Lions’ colors. Heidelberg is scheduled to end its 67-year history when it shutters its doors forever in June.
While closing the books on their school might be something new for her teammates, for Roberts it’s old hat. Two years ago, she played on the lame-duck final edition of the Mannheim Bison.
“It’s sad, but it’s cool, too,” Roberts said about her double-dose of representing a school during its last go-round. “You’re part of history.”
In Roberts’ case, however, the history that occupies the foremost position in her mind is last year’s, her first with the Lions. Mannheim was two years ago, she was just a sophomore, and although the Bison advanced farther into the playoffs than had been expected that year, Roberts said the final-edition Bison lacked the camaraderie she so enjoys in Heidelberg.
Even so, she admitted she was apprehensive about transferring to Heidelberg’s larger and perennially powerful program as a junior.
“I didn’t like it at first,” she said, “but we became close. We were like a family.”
The Heidelberg family posted an unbeaten regular season in Roberts’ first season with the team before a straight-sets pool-play tournament loss to eventual champion Ramstein cost the Lions a spot in the title match. Heidelberg went on to down Vilseck for third-place.
The match for third place is called a “consolation game,” but it provided precious little consolation to Roberts.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said about the 25-19, 25-14 loss to Ramstein. “We had one bad game, and our whole season was gone. We worked so hard. I’m still not over it.”
Learning that the one loss still rankles gives the outsider an insight into Roberts’ competitiveness, certainly a key part of a skills set which has produced 32 kills in four games so far this season. She’s missed just one serve in 54 tries so far, in spite of the pressure of her status as a senior captain.
“It’s kind of hard, knowing it’s the last year,” she said about the approaching end of her volleyball career, which comes with a team that is rebuilding in spite of its status as the end-of-the-trail contingent. “There’s more responsibility, especially in helping others.”
Roberts said that part of her job is the best.
“I like helping younger players improve.”
Enough to consider coaching in the future?
“Not really,” she said. “What I’d really like to do is be a make-up artist in Hollywood.”
For now, however, there’s the matter of putting the best face on the final season for Heidelberg, which has seen its declining enrollment leave talent gaps on all its teams.
In spite of that and her team’s 0-4 start, Roberts, an All-Europe basketball player, predictably isn’t giving up on the final volleyball season. Instead, she said, the Lions are taking advantage of that status.
“It’s more motivation for us,” she said. “We want to go out making Heidelberg proud of us.”