The Plant City High alum has accepted a position as the Tampa Bay Rowdies second team coach.
Even in his playing days, Cheyne Roberts knew he wanted nothing more than to get into coaching.
He got his wish several years ago, with the Ocala Stampede of the Premier Development League. But on Friday, March 25, Roberts reached his dream of becoming a professional coach when he accepted the role of head coach for the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ second team.
“I think it’s an interesting and rewarding role,” Roberts says. “It’s a high level, and there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with coaching a reserve team.”
For about as long as he can remember, Roberts has been involved with the game.
He and his three brothers grew up playing together in Texas before moving to Florida in 1997, and all four ended up playing varsity — and starting — for the Plant City Raiders.
Roberts attended Palm Beach Atlantic University from 2006-10, playing defense, and later channeled that into a post-graduate playing career. He suited up in 44 games for the Charlotte Eagles, of the PDL, and then spent a season with VSI Tampa Bay in the United Soccer League.It was in Charlotte when he realized he needed to start coaching.
“I think, after my second year of playing professionally, I felt like I was playing the game with a coaching perspective,” Roberts says. “I felt like moving into that role at Ocala was natural.”
A back injury at the end of his Charlotte days, which required surgery, only sped up the process. After rehabbing, he spent a season with VSI and then pursued his coaching dreams.
Roberts got to the Stampede in 2013 and remained there until 2015. Seeing the players develop was his favorite part about the job, and it’s what he’s most looking forward to now.
“Seeing players grow on and off the field is also rewarding for me,” Roberts says. “I think it’s going to be really rewarding for everybody.”
All four Roberts brothers grew up living and breathing the game of soccer.
Three of them — Clay, Cheyne and Caleb — are coaches. Clay Roberts is the head of the Southeastern University men’s team, and Caleb Roberts, in addition to assisting his brother with the Fire, heads the Plant City High girls team. Southeastern just wrapped up the best season in program history, finishing as the No. 15 team in NAIA play, and the Lady Raiders are coming off of four consecutive district titles.
Cameron Roberts is a center back at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He’s considering playing after college but, at the moment, has no interest in coaching.
The brothers grew up in Springtown, Texas and practiced soccer in a pasture under their father’s tutelage. They had to drive 30 minutes to Weatherford, Texas, to play in rec league soccer.
“We’ve always seemed to find the game, whether it’s in a small town or a large town, wherever we’ve been,” Clay Roberts says.
There was no prior history of soccer in the family — their father played football at Gardner-Webb University. But, according to Cheyne Roberts, watching their father as a pastor helped drive home the values that drove the brothers toward coaching.
“I enjoy the teaching part of being a coach, I enjoy the leadership, and those are the qualities we grew up watching with my dad, in his occupation as a pastor,” Cheyne Roberts says. “From my perspective, being able to see him in his role — once you see that every day, it’s instilled in you, a little bit.”
The brothers get together regularly.
“When we’re hanging out, there’s always a conversation about soccer,” Clay Roberts says.
Contact Justin Kline at [email protected].