Transition to soccer smooth for Roberts

This is Clovis senior goalkeeper Dewayne Roberts’ first year in net for the wildcats after running cross country last year. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Eric Butler

Former cross country runner Dewayne Roberts had plenty of experience in the net before he became the Clovis High boys soccer team goalkeeper this season.
Sure, if you count a handful of games in the late spring and some more this past summer. And don’t forget the times as a kid when Roberts would play goalie in street roller hockey matches with his friends.
Still, the transition from little-to-no experience to effective goaltender has gone remarkably well for the senior.
Though Clovis’ only victory this year has been one over the Wildcats’ junior varsity squad in its own tournament, Roberts has at times displayed remarkable athleticism in deflecting away or snagging balls to the tune of around nine or 10 saves per contest.
“He has made some spectacular saves. In one game against NMMI (New Mexico Military Institute), there was an upper-V shot from around the 18-yard box and he laid completely full-out,” Clovis coach Shaun Gill said. “He grabbed it in the air and came down on his feet. I just thought, ‘Physically, how did you do that?’”
Roberts, who was on the Clovis cross country squad last year, opted for the challenge of soccer mostly thanks to his friends.
“Some of my friends played. I had a really good friend (Terrance Speice) on the team and he talked to me about wanting me to play,” Roberts said. “So I said, ‘Why not?’ I came out and tried out and made the team.”
Goalkeeper was the only position Roberts was interested in, a fact he told Gill before the soccer tryouts last spring. Despite his experience as a cross country athlete, Roberts had no intention of running up and down the field in pursuit of the ball.
“I told him that’s what I was trying out for. It was the only position I wanted to play,” said Roberts, who had played no soccer — at any position — before last spring. “I was trying to get away from the whole running thing.”
Those who know Roberts say that his first love in sports is neither cross country nor soccer. Instead, volleyball is what he surely would have been playing in high school if the New Mexico Activities Association included it for boys.
“He’s been on a volleyball court ever since he could walk,” said Roberts’ mother, Valerie, the junior varsity volleyball coach at Clovis Christian. “He’s been playing since he was 10 years old with the guys out at Cannon Air Force Base.
“Even though they were men, they didn’t take it easy on him. That’s where he gets his tips and all that jumping from.”
Dewayne Roberts’ transition from cross country runner to soccer goalkeeper has been successful enough and has drawn enough compliments that he now thinks he might be able to draw a college scholarship in the sport.
“It has entered my mind. A couple of coaches that I’ve talked with think that I have a real good shot of going to play at least (NCAA) Division II,” he said. “We’ll just see what the future holds for that.”