Boys basketball: Batavia coach Jim Roberts resigns

Story Image Batavia coach Jim Roberts directs his team.
Simeon at Batavia on 2/2/08 CREDIT: Patrick Gleason/for the S-T

Updated: April 23, 2012 9:09PM

Batavia boys basketball coach Jim Roberts stepped down Monday after 27 seasons.

“There are family health issues that need more of my attention,” said Roberts, shortly after Batavia athletic director Dave Andrews made the surprise announcement to the media via e-mail.

Roberts preferred not to elaborate, but did note his health is fine.

“Per coach Roberts’ request, I am not going to put out a formal news release,” said Andrews, who also didn’t release specifics about the timetable for selecting a replacement.

“(Roberts) will remain on staff at (the high school) as a P.E. teacher.”

The winningest coach in Batavia history at 455-267, a .630 winning percentage, Roberts has a lifelong commitment to and involvement with Batavia basketball. He graduated from the school in 1976 and played for former coach Joe Yagel, who would later hire him at the school.

“I saw the first games played in that gym as a fourth-grader,” Roberts remembered. “I saw (former Batavia standout) Clyde Turner play there in 1969.”

He went on to coach some great players, too. Ten of his teams won 21 or more games in a season and his teams averaged 17 wins during his tenure that featured nine regional titles and two sectional crowns, including one in 1991 when his team made it to the state quarterfinals and finished the season 27-2.

“That was a great moment, but I’d hate to forget one if I tried to name them all,” said Roberts.

Roberts was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011.

His players and former players were quick to react to the news via social media.

Current senior and co-captain of this past season’s team, Mike Rueffer, posted on Facebook: “(Roberts) truly is a very humble man who puts others first. CRob will be missed in the basketball program.”

Corey Williams, who starred on that 1991 team, posted: “I can never express what we owe this man. Coach was Batavia Basketball. He will be truly missed. He is a big part of who I am today and I can’t thank him enough.”

Elliott Vaughn, a 2011 grad, said Roberts “taught me a lot about hooping, taught me more about being a decent and humble human being.”

Added 2010 grad Ricky Clopton: “He cared about his kids more than anyone could imagine. Whoever takes his position has some big shoes to fill.”

Nineteen years ago Roberts started the successful Batavia Night of Hoops, which has evolved into a tripleheader featuring three area teams playing what are usually top-notch programs from around the state. His Bulldogs along with other local schools like West Aurora and East Aurora, among others, have gone head-to-head with the likes of Chicago King and Simeon as well as St. Joseph.

“We’ve been very, very fortunate to have, one, good players,” said Roberts. “Kids who worked hard, and fortunate to have assistant coaches who have done the same. It’s been an honor and privilege to see what we’ve done here the last 27 years as head coach and 28 total.

“We’ve created some great memories. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for my wife (Sylvia) and I, it’s created memories that will last a lifetime.”

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