This issue of the Exchange features Todd Roberts, head wrestling coach at Millersville.
Q: How many seasons have you served as head coach for Millersville’s wrestling team? What was the transition from assistant coach to head coach like?
A: I served as assistant coach for four years here at Millersville, and I’m currently in my fourth season as head coach. The transition to head coach was very smooth since I was a member of the coaching staff for a couple years.
Q: Why did you decide to make coaching your career after earning your bachelor’s degree in engineering management?
A: During the day I work at an alternative education school called River Rock Academy as a teacher and in the evening coach wrestling. I really enjoy working with young people and have a passion to help the sport of wrestling grow and feel it is important for all former wrestlers to give back to the sport that has given us so much.
Q: Has your degree ever been able to come in handy on the wrestling mat?
A: Coaching at the college level is similar to running a small business. The management and business courses I have taken have proved to be invaluable.
Q: Where did you work/coach before coming to Millersville University?
A: My work history includes working in alternative education and coaching young wrestlers from elementary to high school ages.
Q: What are the main differences from coaching a woman’s wrestling team to coaching a men’s wrestling team?
A: The women wrestlers are very eager to learn. Many of the women are new to the sport and have not developed bad habits, making it easier to learn good technique. There is also some different music playing that you don’t typically hear in a wrestling room.
Q: When did you first decided you wanted to be a wrestler? Why?
A: I started wrestling in seventh grade when a friend invited me to a practice. He thought I would enjoy the competition. I thought it was just a club team that practiced once a week until the coach, also my history teacher, made sure that I was at practice every day. I really didn’t know what I was getting in to.
Q: Were you any good?
A: There is a long tradition of wrestling at Dallastown High School and many of my teammates had been wrestling since they were in diapers. I was a quick learner. During high school I loved a bunch of sports but I had the most success wrestling. By the time I was a senior I became a state-ranked wrestler and earned a scholarship to a NCAA Division I school.
Q: How do you use your experience, from the years you spent developing as a wrestler yourself to each team/student you’ve coached in the past, to coach your team today?
A: Coach Walizer and I make sure that we teach our student-athletes “lifetime habits.” We want every wrestler to be a leader in the community. Balancing school and wrestling takes tremendous discipline. We can empathize with their challenges because we have been there ourselves. Every year I become a better coach and learn that coaching is less about showing moves and more about guiding student-athletes to making better choices.
Q: Since entering Millersville’s wrestling program, you’ve not only helped it become one of the top academic wrestling programs but you’ve also broken many University records. Why do you think you’ve been able to be so successful?
A: Academics are stressed across the athletics department. Dr. Grant has helped put in place several programs and policies to help our student-athletes with the transition into college. He also provides our team with the necessary resources to get the help they need. As a coach, we just make sure that the wrestlers know that our academic policies are non-negotiable and are in place for their benefit.
Q: Your peers voted you NCAA East Region Coach of the Year. What does an honor like that mean to you?
A: Coach of the Year honors means to me that our program is heading in the right direction. It is a compliment to every member of our team and athletic department.
Q: In addition to your coaching responsibilities, one thing you’ve done is started a youth wrestling clinic. Why was establishing this clinic important for you?
A: Millersville wrestling wants to be a leader in the community and help to promote wrestling to young kids. Offering wrestling clinics allows us to introduce the sport to local kids in a fun and non-competitive way. Coach Albright and Coach Walizer put in a lot of time to help the young wrestlers gain an appreciation for the sport.
Q: Millersville’s wrestling program recently dropped from Division I to Division II, how do you feel about this change?
A: We feel that with the new changes we will be able to be competitive on a national level and bring recognition to Millersville University.
Q: What’s your favorite wrestling move?
A: My favorite move has always been the head outside single-leg takedown. It’s nothing special or glamorous but effective. I always like sticking to the basics.
Q: Do you enjoy watching professional wrestling?
A: Growing up as a kid I was a big fan. I stopped watching after my dad took me to see a live match at Hershey’s arena to see Hulk Hogan. I had one of the big foam fingers holding up the #1 sign. We sat near the ring and I was disappointed when I finally realized why they called it entertainment.
Q: How do you motivate your students? What’s your best coaching tactic?
A: Coach Walizer does a fantastic job in preparing the wrestlers to compete. I try to reinforce their confidence by reminding them that their training has prepared them to step on the mat and should always expect to win against every opponent. Our staff believes in staying positive.
Q: What has been the most rewarding moment in your career? What about in your personal life?
A: The most rewarding part of coaching is talking to the alumni when they come back to visit and hear how they are doing. As an advisor for the Athletes Bible Fellowship (ABF) I always enjoy seeing wrestlers attending the ABF meetings. In my personal life, I have been blessed to be able to travel the world at a young age. My travels have allowed me to tour China, Australia, England, France, Italy and Greece.
Q: What do you do when you’re not coaching?
A: Some days I enjoy a round of golf but there are also some days when I wish I would have stayed home. During the summer months I enjoy boating and vacationing near Chincoteague, Va., with my fiancée Trina.
Q: If you could have one super-power what would it be? Why?
A: I grew up watching Superman movies so I would have to say being able to fly. Or better yet, being able to instantly teleport myself anywhere in the world. That way I can avoid some of the long bus rides.
Q: If money was no object, what’s the one thing you’d want to buy?
A: Land. I would like to own 100 acres with a private lake.
Q: What’s one thing in your life you can’t live without?
A: My phone, it is amazing how much I rely on my phone to keep me organized.