Rediscovering his passion on the field

CSM’s Roberts balances football, school, fatherhood

SAN MATEO — If there is such a thing as too much athletic promise, perhaps therein was born the odyssey of Calvin Roberts. It was his heart, though, that led him back to the gridiron.

Roberts isn’t a discipline case. He is a fine student. As an athlete, he brings an exemplary work ethic to the field. Yet, in an attempt to define himself as an athlete, he has attended three schools in as many years.

Before landing at College of San Mateo, where he has emerged as a standout cornerback, Roberts pursued a football career at City College of San Francisco. Immediately following a state championship bid, however, he transferred to Skyline College to play baseball.

“I didn’t really feel the environment,” said Roberts of his one semester at CCSF. “My dad and I talked about it and we decided I should move somewhere else and get my opportunity there.”

Amid the spring of 2005, however, life and death intervened in Roberts’ destiny. In February, his daughter Layla was born. Just two months later, his father, Ralpheal Hale Sr., died of a sudden heart attack.

His father’s death came unexpectedly on a Monday evening. He and Roberts had spoken earlier in the day. Just hours later, as Roberts was about to leave for a recreational basketball game, he received a phone call with the news of Hale’s death.

Roberts completed his classes at Skyline that semester, but quit the baseball team. He quickly came to the conclusion most multisport athletes must reach in college, and in doing so realized he belonged on the football field.

“I had to leave the [baseball] team for a while, then I decided I wanted to play football,” Roberts said. “My heart was in football.”

CSM had scouted Roberts during his high school career at El Camino, where he played quarterback in addition to the secondary. As a freshman at CCSF, Roberts was originally slated for the secondary, but volunteered to convert to running back, where he played mostly as a third-string replacement.

Upon transferring to CSM, Roberts was immediately reconverted to the secondary. He took a medical redshirt in 2005 before landing a first-string cornerback assignment this season. Thus far in 2006, he has grabbed two interceptions in helping the Bulldogs to a 5-1 start. He is also taking 18 units this semester, and sees his daughter three times a week.

“I think [football is] a little bit of salvation,” CSM head coach Larry Owens said. “He’s had a tough road of it. He’s overcome a lot. We’re proud of the ways he goes about things.He’s a good kid.”

Roberts’ dream is to play in the NFL, he and is currently working towards a transfer to a Div. I school. He has had contact with West-Coast schools such as Oregon State and San Jose State, but has not ruled out playing for Utah or Louisville should he receive an offer.

“Honestly, I don’t even know what’s going to happen if I sign at a school back east,” Roberts said. “I’d like to stay on the west coast, like Oregon, Washington, Nevada, or somewhere like that.”

Fatherhood has a place in his heart too. And with their birthdays being just three days apart, Roberts was thrilled to share a birthday party with Layla in February.

“Being a dad, it’s a big responsibility,” Roberts said. “It’s not as tough as people think though. It’s not like: ‘Oh God, my life is over’”.

In fact, life is still just beginning for Calvin Roberts.

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