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Assistant track coach Clive Roberts uses compassion and persistance

BY CODY GOODWIN | FEBRUARY 08, 2012 7:20 AM

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Assistant track coach Clive Roberts knows his athletes can be successful. Their potential, he believes, is unlimited. They just have to put in the time and effort to succeed.

That kind of mindset drives Roberts to coach the way he does. He pushes his athletes. He drives them to the brink of exhaustion. His high expectations — both in practice and in competition — keep the athletes prepared to run, jump, and compete at the highest level.

And not just on the track, either.

"Hard work pays off, plain and simple," he said. "We run a development program here at the University of Iowa. We could have a walk-on kid or a recruit with a scholarship, but there's still an expectation for working hard."

The fourth-year assistant coach used his coaching philosophy during his own sports career, when he was a sprinter at Central Michigan. Roberts, a native of Toronto, won a Canadian Junior National championship in the 110-meter hurdles. That top showing earned him interest from the Chippewas, where he continued to run hurdles and eventually claimed a silver medal at the MAC indoor championships and qualify for nationals in the 60-meter hurdles.

Roberts became a graduate assistant and then an assistant coach at his alma mater. He coached 13 MAC champions and two indoor All-Americans, Clarence Glenn and Pierre Vinson. Roberts also coached Glenn to the USA Track Championship semifinals.

Bowling Green reached out to him with an assistant coach job offer in 2007. Roberts' work at the school over two years prompted Iowa head women's track and field coach Layne Anderson to call him about joining his staff in Iowa City.

"He wants more for his athletes than they potentially want for themselves," Anderson said. "He has a thorough eye for the details. He makes his athletes work; he really stood out as a coach."

Roberts said he nearly jumped out of his seat at the opportunity.

"It wasn't a hard decision to leave Bowling Green and come to Iowa," he said. "When Coach Anderson offered me the job, he basically said I was going from an outhouse to a gold mine. I had to do it."

Roberts' coaching philosophy has helped him produce many successful athletes during his four years at Iowa. He has overseen the women's sprints and hurdles, women's relays, and men's and women's horizontal jumps. He was named director of recruiting last year.

His athletes embraced his high expectations. As a result, he has led his student-athletes to six all-conference honors and six all-American honors.

Roberts' is also unusually invested in his athletes' lives. This has proven beneficial for both him and his athletes.

"We have a meeting — me and my athletes — once a week, where we'll just sit down and talk about life," he said. "A lot of coaches will say they're good communicators, but when are they actually doing it?"

Roberts' communication has been beneficial to a long list of athletes, including men's triple-jump standout Troy Doris. The current senior, who has claimed two Big Ten titles and two All-American honors, said his relationship with the Canadian coach goes much further than the track.

"From a coaching standpoint, he's real technical. He knows the positioning and technique, and he knows how to do everything right," Doris said. "But from a more personal standpoint, he's really committed. Even if I go to track meets and win, we both think the same thing: We want more."


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