The St. Mary’s College of Maryland community on Saturday celebrated its new stadium and the former student-athlete the structure was named after.
A dedication ceremony for the Jamie L. Roberts Stadium featured athletes, alumni and the broader school community gathered together in the two-story structure that sits across Mattapany Road from the college’s athletic center, where they heard about the late Jamie Roberts and the impact she had on the school.
A plaque with Roberts’ picture and her background is placed against the wall by the stadium’s entrance. The 2011 graduate was a three-sport athlete as a Seahawk — basketball, soccer and field hockey. In June 2014, the 24-year old died in Kentucky while on a cross country, 4,000-mile “4K for Cancer” annual bike ride for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults that allows bike riders to go from Baltimore to Portland, Ore., while raising money to aide young adults affected by cancer.
A short parade took place at the beginning of the ceremony at the stadium, which features an artificial turf field and a natural grass field. The former athlete’s teammates from 2007 to 2011 walked by, followed by current student athletes from the basketball, soccer and field hockey teams as well as the 4K for Cancer team Jamie Roberts rode with before her death.
Jeff Byrd, a biology professor and Jamie Roberts’ former assistant basketball coach, gave a rundown of his former player’s long lists of basketball stats. “Being on that bench just drove her nuts,” he said.
Byrd said he remembers her trying out as a lacrosse goalie during her second year at the college and thinking she was a “legend in the making” when watching one of her games. He also noted she tried out for the soccer team her junior year and made team captain her senior year.
Byrd said she was picked as the college’s athlete of the year as a senior and given the athletic director’s award the same year. “So you know she had the respect of the whole athletic department,” he said.
Jasmine Jones, a 2013 graduate, reminisced about the time she spent with her friend and teammate. “For two years I played side by side with the one and only Jamie Roberts,” the former basketball player said.
Jones recalled her friend’s “radiant personality,” adventurous spirit and the fact that she used to dress as the school’s mascot. As a player, Jones said Roberts always beat her in the elimination game of horse and “encompassed everything a captain should be.”
Tuajuanda Jordan, the college’s president, called Saturday’s ceremony a once-in-a-lifetime event. “I remember that three years ago, almost to the day, we broke ground” on the two-field stadium, Jordan said. “Well, look at where we are today.”
She said the Roberts family donated $2.5 million toward the stadium — “the largest single gift in the college’s history.” The president added there were 2,900 other donors and $75 million from the state to go toward both the stadium and a new academic building with an auditorium that will sit next to the athletic facility and expected to open fall 2022.
Sen. Jack Bailey (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert) told the audience the college is a treasured asset and commented on the state’s funding. “During the upcoming legislative session, I look forward to continuing the funding of the Jamie L. Roberts Stadium,” Bailey said.
Meghan Ronan, a field hockey player speaking on behalf of student athletes, said the new field has improved their level of play “drastically.” Ronan said she never met Roberts but heard about her through the phrase “live like Jamie,” which was coined by her friends to remind everyone to be friendly and do their best.
Bob Roberts recalled when his daughter first became a Seahawk 12 years ago. It was also 12 years ago when the planning for the stadium complex started, he said. Echoing what previous speakers said, Bob Roberts commented on his daughter’s friendly personality.
“To Jamie, there were no strangers,” he said. “There were just friends she had not met yet.”