Charlottesville, VA – Former Cavalier football standout Ray Roberts will return to Virginia as the director of life skills for football it was announced today by Executive Associate Athletics Director Jon Oliver. Roberts will coordinate, develop and administer programs to assist the members of the Virginia football team in personal development, leadership training and involvement, community service, and career planning.
“After attending a NFL/NCAA Life Skills conference I met with Coach London to discuss the addition of a dedicated life skills position for the football program,” Oliver said. “I first met Ray when we held the first annual football life skills day for the team. After listening to Ray talk about the opportunity to take advantage of all the University has to offer, I thought he would be a perfect fit for the position. He understands what it takes to be successful at the University and in life and our young men will be able to relate to him.”
A first-team All-American at offensive tackle in 1991, Roberts is a native of Asheville, N.C. He earned his undergraduate degree in communications from Virginia in 1992. In 2007 he completed his master’s degree in intercollegiate athletic leadership from the University of Washington.
“I’m excited about coming back to a place that means so much to me,” Roberts said. “Attending UVa and playing football for the Cavaliers changed my life forever. My heart never left. I have had the opportunity to sit down with Coach London and hear his goals for the program. I am behind him 100 percent. He has a vision, the courage to stick to it and the resources to get it done.
“When a young man makes the decision to attend UVa on a football scholarship we are making a promise to him to help him develop and mature on and off the field. I will help to make that happen. We want our student-athletes to be impactful in the community, on Grounds and in the classroom. I’m committed to making sure that impact is felt across the board and that our student-athletes leave this great university having maximized their personal, academic and athletic potential. UVa changed my life forever. It is my duty and honor to pay it forward.”
Roberts’ work will focus on enabling student-athletes to achieve growth intellectually, physically, socially, emotionally, and ethically. He will be actively involved with committees and programs that have been established to address the needs, concerns and interests of student-athletes. Under the direction of Life Skills Director Phil Gates, he will serve as an advisor to the existing SAM (Student-Athlete Mentor) and SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Council) committees, collaborate with the University Career Services Office to assist football student-athletes in identifying and learning how to pursue careers outside of professional sports, and conduct other life skills workshops and enrichment programs during the year.
“Ray Roberts will be an outstanding addition to the Virginia athletic family,” said Cavalier football coach Mike London. “The position of director of life skills fits Ray Roberts to a tee. His experience and transition from a high school athlete to a recruited college student-athlete and from college to the NFL and life after the NFL makes him uniquely qualified. He has been a high school coach, businessman, motivational speaker, broadcaster and entrepreneur. Ray Roberts has done it all. Most of all he is a graduate of UVa. We welcome Ray with anticipation of him positively impacting the lives of our football players.”
Roberts lettered at Virginia from 1988 to 1991, serving as a captain during his senior season. He started on three teams that played in bowl games and was a member of UVa’s 1989 ACC Championship team. In addition to earning All-America honors as a senior he received the Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the ACC’s top lineman for the second consecutive season. He was named first-team All-ACC in 1990 and 1991 and received All-ACC Academic honors during his junior season at UVa. In 2009 Roberts had his number 72 jersey retired by Virginia.
The 10th overall pick in the 1992 NFL Draft, Roberts played professional football for nine seasons. He played his first four seasons in Seattle and his final five years in Detroit.
Following his professional football career, Roberts returned to Seattle and worked as an assistant high school football coach at Interlake High School in Bellevue, Wash. In 2008 he was named head coach at Lake Washington High School where he coached two seasons. In addition to coaching Roberts worked for one year at Microsoft as a diversity specialist, was a member of KIRO Radio’s Seattle Seahawks’ pregame show, has been a regular football analyst for Seattle-area radio and television stations and operated a personal assistant/concierge service with his wife, Beth, also a UVa graduate.
“We have assembled a strong support system that Ray will be a part of,” Oliver said. “Steve Atkinson has done a great job of implementing the community service program that coach London envisioned. Phil Gates has developed and provided life skills training for all of our athletics programs. George Morris offers tremendous support as the team chaplain and we recently added Jim Bauman to our staff as the resident sports psychologist. This team of exceptional individuals is here to help our student-athletes develop holistically and to reach their individual goals as well as our collective goals for the department.”
Roberts and his wife have three children – Reagan, Slade and Pryce. He will join the Virginia staff in mid-August.