STARKVILLE — It’s been an offseason of turnover in many sports at the high school level in Mississippi, and it’s no different for the Starkville Academy girls basketball team.
The Volunteers hired former Jackson Academy assistant coach Colleen Roberts to replace Marianne Ward, who left to coach at Nanih Waiya High School.
Roberts is no stranger to MAIS basketball; she attended the former Woodland Hills, an academy in Jackson that is no longer open. From there, Roberts continued her playing career at Wheaton, a school outside of Chicago, where she started all four years. She then returned to Jackson to coach at Jackson Academy.
Roberts started as the ninth-grade coach and helped the Raiders win two junior varsity championships in her first four years. Shortly after, she took some time away from coaching basketball to spend time with her family. She returned to coach tennis 11 years ago, then came back to Jackson Academy basketball five years ago.
On the last day of school this year, Starkville Academy reached out to Roberts to gauge her interest in applying.
“I know the headmaster from his time in Jackson, and I knew that he is a quality person,” Roberts said. “Then I met the athletic director and principal and they are great people, so it was a good fit.”
Starkville Academy needs some stability in its head coach position as the Vols have had several coaches over the past six years. After 18 years at Jackson Academy, Roberts can provide that. The task to stabilize the coaching carousel at the MAIS level is a difficult one, but not one from which Roberts plans to back down..
“My youngest children just graduated last month, so I have the opportunity and a little more time to pour into something new like being a head coach,” Roberts said.
Some coaches have a head start on Roberts, who won’t meet her new team until next week. But she’s much more concerned with the process and the program that she’s looking to build.
“I bring a passion for doing things the right way,” Roberts said. “I believe in hard work and that you need to get the little details right for a program to run well. I think I also bring perspective as well. I’ve been on all sides of the sports equation: I’ve been the player, I’ve been the parent, and I’ve been the coach.”
Roberts is well aware that the head coaching job comes with a set of big expectations, but that doesn’t concern her.
“You can always bring the effort and you can always do things the right way, and at that point, the results will take care of themselves,” Roberts said.