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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Roberts reflects on unique four-year Suffolk journey

Courtesy of Sydney Fogg
Suffolk University senior and News Editor of The Suffolk Journal Sarah Roberts racing the 10k at Connecticut College’s Silfen Invitational April 12.

Sarah Roberts is the News Editor of The Suffolk Journal.

The only person who would’ve been surprised by Sarah Roberts’ Suffolk University career might’ve been Sarah Roberts. 

After three years as a pillar on the university’s prolific cross country and track & field teams, it’s amazing to reflect on her journey of determination and perseverance.  

Hailing from Taunton, Massachusetts, Roberts discovered her love for running in elementary school.

“I started running in fifth grade. I remember hearing an announcement over the loudspeaker saying cross country tryouts were after school. I went and I haven’t stopped running since,” said Roberts. “I had done so many other sports but none of them had scratched the itch that running had.”

From there, her infatuation with running took off, and she jumped at the chance to run for the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams from eighth to 12th grade at Taunton High School.

She improved early, but during her junior and senior seasons, Roberts felt she had plateaued and questioned if she had the ability to run in college. She was ready to accept that this chapter of her life was coming to a close. 

There was a specific track meet her senior year that left her feeling particularly discouraged. But little did she know, her performance that day had caught the eye of someone in the crowd.

“I ran this really awful 5k and gave me a medal for it. I got like 49th place and they gave me a medal. I will never forget just looking down at it and thinking ‘This is the dumbest thing that’s ever happened to me.’ But it turns out, ‘coach’ was at that race,” said Roberts.

‘Coach’ turned out to be head coach of Suffolk’s men’s and women’s cross country and track & field teams, Will Feldman.

Roberts wasn’t necessarily the highest on Suffolk’s recruitment list, but Feldman saw an athlete he could work with. 

“It just seemed like she had some potential if she got into the right program. Her personality was conducive to growth and she was willing to put in the work to develop into a contributor for our team and a pretty good runner at the college level,” said Feldman.

A few weeks later, Roberts received a letter from Feldman. In disbelief, Roberts first thought the letter was a scam, but soon realized it was a valid letter of recruitment to run at Suffolk.  

With the letter, Roberts’ confidence and desire to run in college had been reinvigorated, but it was unclear if Suffolk was going to be a realistic opportunity. She regretted not applying herself more seriously earlier in high school, as the letter served as a real wake-up call. 

She vowed to never let that happen again. 

This uncertainty led her to look at other nearby colleges, but Roberts’ heart was still with the navy and gold. 

“It was Suffolk the whole time, but I realized I had to start getting realistic and that’s when I started talking to the Framingham State coach. He was really nice and we emailed back and forth, but I remember him asking me ‘What makes you want to be a Ram?’ and I thought ‘Ew that’s not the kind of Ram I want to be!’ said Roberts. 

She eventually convinced her parents to tour the university, which was followed by an in-person meeting with Coach Feldman. Feldman offered her a spot on the team right there, which pushed the envelope for Roberts’ eventual commitment to Suffolk.

Once Roberts arrived at Suffolk though, her expectations, like many other incoming freshmen that year, were quickly soured by the coronavirus pandemic. Between the university’s restrictions combined with the cancellation of the NCAA season and a bout of Achilles tendinitis, Roberts struggled to find her footing.

As she moved into her sophomore year and the pandemic faded into the rearview mirror, it was time to put the previous year’s struggles behind her.

She did that with her strongest and most shocking performance of the year in the Commonwealth Coast Conference Championships during the cross country season. Roberts finished 19th overall, four spots away from an all-conference selection and helped Suffolk capture its first conference championship in the program’s history. 

It was such an impressive achievement that even Feldman didn’t see it coming. 

“To be honest with you she probably had no business being that high, but once I started counting runners, it was one of those ‘holy cow’ moments. … I think that was her coming out party,” said Feldman.

Sarah Roberts poses in front of the Division III East Regionals cross country banner in New Hampshire Nov. 10, 2023. (Courtesy of Sydney Fogg)

It was a real ‘ah-ha’ moment for Roberts as it became clear that she was starting to fulfill her potential.

Roberts’ sophomore season is also where she saw debatably the proudest stamp on Suffolk athletics as a founder of the team’s mantra, ‘rodent mentality.’ 

The inspiration for the term came before the team’s performance at regionals in 2021, as they faced a course that had been tarnished by the previous days’ weather and races. They were ready to coast through the race after already winning conference, but the team rallied around the idea of thinking like a rat to stay motivated.

“We thought, ‘You know who wouldn’t care about a bad course? A rat,” said Roberts.

This prompted teammate Sydney Fogg to say the phrase ‘rodent mentality,’ and the group quickly knew they had something brewing.

“I don’t really know where it came from, but it became a really motivating and funny sort of saying. It really motivated us to keep pushing during the race but also lightened the mood to talk about being a rat,” said Fogg.

The team has since rallied around the idea with t-shirts depicting buff rats sprinting, a gold rat pin and a custom stuffed animal rat commissioned by Feldman.

Roberts and the team carried their rodent mentality into the next season as they’d once again capture the conference championship in cross country. She also had a fantastic season individually and was named an all-conference runner for the first time in her career.

Roberts has credited a lot of her progression to Feldman during this time, but also recognized a drastic mental shift she made that helped revolutionize her self confidence. 

“I needed to stop telling myself I wasn’t good enough for it. You get to a certain point where you’re in a workout, or on a run or in a race, where if you’re saying negative things, you’re gonna stop. Your body is going to do what your mind tells it to do,” said Roberts.

Roberts’ success carried into the track seasons that year as well and was rewarded by being named a captain of both the indoor and outdoor squads. 

There was a time when the title of captain might’ve seemed unlikely, as Feldman felt Roberts may not have the right qualities to lead the team. 

“Sarah had wanted to be a captain at one point and we had a tough conversation where I said, ‘There are some things we need to work on and improve if you want to be a leader on the team.’ I think most kids would’ve been insulted by that and may have resented that sort of feedback, but Sarah didn’t push back. She took it to heart and she’s really embraced everything we’ve asked from her sophomore year on,” said Feldman.

Roberts is grateful for this aspect of Feldman’s coaching though, as he’s not afraid to give her the tough love she may need in the moment. He fondly refers to her as his ‘four-year project’ and one of his proudest accomplishments.

“When I’m acting like a baby he gives me tough love. And when I’m down in the dumps or discouraged he always reminds me to think about my high school self and how far I’ve come. And he’s right. He’s always right,” said Roberts. 

The culmination of this special bond has bloomed this year in Roberts’ senior season. Roberts served as captain for the Rams cross country team for the first time and helped lead them to a historic three-peat as CCC champions. She also captured her second consecutive all-conference recognition. 

Once again, the success didn’t stop there for Roberts as she went on to qualify for New England regionals in the 10k for outdoor track. Her time of 39:49:31 is 98th in the nation among all of NCAA DIII. It was an astounding performance that was a testament to Roberts’ hard work and dedication throughout her Suffolk career.  

Roberts’ impact on the Suffolk community spans further than the track and XC course, as she has an integral role in The Suffolk Journal as a News Editor. 

She started attending meetings of The Suffolk Journal her sophomore year, but didn’t find a beat she gravitated towards at first. Then, after the Russia-Ukraine invasion, a Ukrainian student at Suffolk was passionate and wanted to talk about the topic, and Roberts was encouraged to take the story.

“I was so not confident about this. I was thinking, ‘This is gonna be so bad, this is such an important topic and I have no idea what I’m doing.’ And then I wrote it, and I started getting so many messages from editors saying ‘This is the best thing I’ve ever read’, ‘This is going above the fold’, ‘You made me cry.’ And I was like ‘Oh my God, is this supposed to be what I’m supposed to be doing with my life?’” said Roberts.

Seemingly, it is. 

Roberts has since skyrocketed through the Journal’s ranks, rising from Staff Writer, to Assistant News Editor to News Editor her senior year. 

Roberts holding the CCC championship trophy after the women’s cross country team won its third straight conference title Oct. 28, 2023. (Courtesy of Sarah Roberts)

She didn’t know how she’d be able to balance both commitments, but it was clear both sides supported her to take advantage of the opportunities available to her. 

“I couldn’t [be an editor] because of [running]. I explained that to The Journal but they said they had wanted me to be an editor so they’d figure out a way for me to do both. Then I talked to my coach about it and he said if I needed to skip practices on Wednesdays and run on my own, I could do that. I was like ‘Wow everyone is so willing to help me, that’s so sweet,’” said Roberts.

Her efforts with the Journal helped her earn a coveted co-op for the Boston Globe working on their web page. 

After graduation, Roberts plans to remain in Boston pursuing a career in journalism. 

And of course, she still plans on running, as her competitiveness toward the sport won’t waver after she leaves Suffolk. She even expects Feldman to keep sending her workouts once she’s graduated.

Her goal is to one day run the Boston Marathon with the dream of finishing in under three hours.

It’s clear Roberts’ presence will be missed by the Rams though, as everyone has struggled to measure her value to the program. 

“Push comes to shove, Sarah is always gonna find a way to be there. She’s been our rock for two years. Everyone else can have a bad day but somehow Sarah’s gonna figure it out and save us in the end. Losing our security blanket is gonna be hard for everyone on the team,” said Feldman.

Fogg also recognizes the hole Roberts is leaving on the team as a leader. 

“She’s not scared in big moments. She is able to be confident and tough. She can stick her nose in those big situations at conference or regionals. It’s really inspiring and has been amazing to watch,” said Fogg.

As this chapter of her life comes to a close, Roberts is extremely grateful for the time she’s had here and is appreciative of every moment.  

“There’s never been a day where I’ve woken up and thought ‘Oh my God the last thing I wanna do right now is go to practice.’ Practice is the best of the day almost every day. I can’t imagine not being with this team, not having him as my coach and not racing every week or every other week,” said Roberts.

Wherever this Ram, or rat, runs off to next, she is bound to leave a mark on those around her.

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Liam McCall
Liam McCall, Staff Writer | he/him
Liam is a print/web journalism major from Melrose, Massachusetts. Originally a marketing major, he switched to journalism to follow his joy for writing. He is a big sports fan and roots for all New England teams, especially the Red Sox and the Patriots. In his free time, he loves going on runs, listening to music and going golfing with his friends.
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