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May 17, 1972 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1972-05-17

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Page Fourteen

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

4
Wednesday, May 17, 1972

Leon Roberts--poise marks the man

By THERESA SWEDO
"In describing Leon, I would
have to stress the word, poise.
He kept his poise despite being
under the pressure of being the
star. Especially in basketball,
if he missed a shot or some-
thing, the opposing crowd would
ride him, but that never would
bother Leon. That's what al-
ways impressed me about him."
Dave Reeves, Leon Roberts'
high school baseball coach, had
plenty of time to see the poise
develop in his star athletes. To-
day that poise and natural abil-
ity has secured Roberts a start-
ing spot at center field on the
Michigan varsity baseball team.
In high school, Roberts w as
"considered one of the most out-
standing all-around athletes we
have had around the Kalamazoo-
area," according to Coach Reev-
es
$1.50
Fri-Sat-Sun.
Michael
Cooney

"Leon played football, basket-
ball, baseball, and ran track. In
football he was a split end most
of the time and picked up all
kinds of pass receiving records.
In basketball, he was up in the
front line, playing forward and
center. He led the greater Kala-
mazoo area in scoring for three
years. In baseball he was a pit-
cher and played in the outfield
when he wasn't pitching."
One indication of Roberts' ath-
letic prowess in high school was
the interest colleges were begin-
ning to show in him from the
middle of his sophomore year.
"The recruitment was good in
the beginning. I felt pretty hon-
ored by all these colleges show-
ing interest in me. But after a
while, it got pretty hectic, be-
cause I couldn't be nice to all
the colleges at the same time. I
didn't have the time to spend
talking on the telephone to each
one and making them feel as
though they had a chance to get
me."
Mrs. Wilbur Roberts remem-
bers the battle of the recruiters
over her son. "Leon was recruit-
ed by so many colleges iad uni-
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versities. I had wanted him to go
to Notre Dame or Purdue. but
he and his father were kind of
for U of M. I didn't want him to
go there, so I wouldn't sign his
papers, but his father sgned
them all.
Coach Reeves expressed great
admiration for the personality of
his former charge in respect tow
his attitudes about athletics, "He
was a real concentrator when it
came to playing; all buiness.
He was one of the most coach-
able fellows I've run %cross. He
kept a level head, despite all the
publicity he was getting."
"Even though he had great na-
tural ability," added Reeves,
"Leon was always willing to
take suggestions. I never had
any trouble with him in prac-
tice, as a matter of fact, he was
always the one who wanted to
stay and take more batting prac-
tice. I think that's the way he
got as good as he is."
Through grade school and
three years of high school at
Portage Northern in Kalamazoo,
Roberts kept himself in g o o d
shape academically as well as
physically.
Coach Reeves talks about the
academic angle this way," Aca-
demically, he was an above-
average student. In making his
choice of a college, we 6ried to
get it across to him that he
wasn't going to be able to play
athletics all his life, and ta. it
was important to have a good
education. So when the time
came to make a choice he want-
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ed a school that was a "name"
school athletically and where he
could get a good education."
Roberts received over 100
scholarship offers from various
colleges and universities across
the nation; most biding on iis
football and basketball talent.
Today he doesn't regret choos-
ing the Michigan offer of a full
scholarship for both basketball
and baseball.
"When I was in high school it
was like being a big fish in a
little pond. But with Michigan it
was a lot different. I felt honor-
ed to be accepted and to be able
to play varsity sports for a Big
Ten school. It's still a thrill be-
ing here, and being associated
with the whole program."
Roberts played basketball in
his freshman and sophomore
years, but dropped it when the
time conflict between it and
baseball became too great. He
played guard on the freshman
and varsity squads before quit-
ting to devote all of his time tc
becoming Michigan's starting
centerfielder.
Roberts no longer is bothered
by pre-game jitters as he was
when fighting for a spot or be-
ing under pressure to do well
to keep his job. Now e just
wants to "keep loose".
He is planning and hoping on
being able to turn pro after he
graduates. Roberts is now a
junior in the school of educa-
tion. "I'd like almost any warm-
weather team. Right now I've
got to concentrate an- improv-
ing my game so that Ihave a
better chance to be datr ortand
have some bargaining power.'
Being able to play varsity
baseball for his three years of
college has given Roberta an
appreciation of the meanin7 of
the Big Ten freshanon eligibilius
ruling. "I think it's a great op-
portunity for freisen to be
involved in athletics on the var-
sity level. I know it helted mea
lot.".
Hopefully soon to be involved
in professional baseball, Roberts
feels that the basebai strike was

unnecessary and harmful.
"The older player who have
more than enough money toget
by were the ones who could af-
ford to hold out for larger con-
tracts. The younger players, who
have to be playing the games to
make some money, were the
ones who got screwod. I don't
feel that the owners should have
given into the demands so ear-
ily."
"As far as the future is con-
cerned beyond professional base-
ball, I haven't made any decis-
ions yet. I might tike to teach,
or coach; business ind public re-
lations are another couple of pos-
sibilities."
'M' recruits
new gridders
The players, listed by state, are as
follows:
MICHIGAN Jeff Lemley, end (Alle-
gan); Phil Powers, quarterback (Mar-
cellos); Kirk Lewis, end (Garden City);
David Whiteford, halfback (Traverse
City); Jamses Czitt, centet (St. Ja-
seih); JacksFairbanksedeensie back
(Hawks); George Przygodski, end
(Grand Rapids); Eric Johnson, tackle
(Negauee); Den Ducek, defensive
back (Ann Arbr); Frank Moore, guard
(Detroit); Calvin O'Neal, middle guard
(Saginaw); and Daniel Jilek, line-
backer (Sterling Heights).
OIHO-Gregory Morton, center-line-
backer (Akron); Kurt Olmran, full-
baklinehtackr (Mutes); Le sIi e
M iga ad-tackle (Ely a); M ttl
Caputo, defensive end (T o l e d o);
Charles Randolph, defensive tackle
(Amelia); Michael Strabley, fullback-
linebacker (Massillon); scott Bowers,
fullback- a-linebcker (Ueliontosn);
craig Mecullen, guard-middle-guard
(Kent); Greg Strinko, defensive end
(Middletown); Alan wheeler, tackle
icinnatit; Richard Koschalk, line-
bakr(Tledo); Timsthy Davis, mid-
dle guard - linebacker (Warren) and
Eduardo Gonzalez, halfback (Cincin-
nati.
INDIANA - David Devich, lineback-
er (Highla d) and Keith Johnson, de-
fesiveback-slit end (MsIer.
ILLINOIS - Jay Rau, halfback
(Thorn ridge).

and
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