Q&A with Ole Miss Head Women’s Volleyball Coach and CAC Alumni Steven McRoberts (’88)
A CAC “lifer,” Coach Steven McRoberts attended CAC from PreK until graduation in 1988. After graduating from Harding University in 1993 with a degree in Kinesiology, he returned to Mustang Mountain to coach volleyball, basketball and golf for two years. He went on to get a master’s degree from Henderson State and serve as the head volleyball coach at multiple universities. Currently in his 22nd year of collegiate coaching, McRoberts is the head women’s volleyball coach for Ole Miss. We sat down with him while he was on campus to discuss his CAC experience, his coaching and his faith.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by campus and speak in chapel! It was fun to hear stories of your time at CAC! What are some of the things you are most thankful for when you look back on your experience here?
The biggest thing, looking back on CAC, was definitely the relationships. I made such good friends here that have carried on with me now for 40 plus years. We still keep in touch. Being in a class of 65 people and knowing pretty much every single person in our class and knowing most of the people two years ahead of us and behind us – that’s a really cool thing.
I also learned a lot from the coaches. I noticed the joy that the teachers and coaches had when they came to work and it made me want to be a coach. I saw those coaches come in and how much they enjoyed it, and I thought, “I want to do something that I enjoy coming to.”
And you did! You’ve been a coach for 25 years, either on the high school or collegiate level. What are some things you’ve learned over the past quarter of a decade?
I’ve learned that wins and losses come and go. No matter how successful you are in that sense, it doesn’t matter – those things are fleeting. As a coach you need to really work to invest in the lives of your players. Character lessons matter the most.
I don’t want to say that I’m less competitive than I used to be, but my focus is definitely different. I really enjoy the day-to-day interactions with my staff and with my players more than I used to, because that’s what I’m focused on now.
I love seeing the success my players have 10 or 15 years down the road – when they come walking up and they’ve got a couple of kids, or when they send me a Christmas card, or they shoot me a text telling me that their son committed to play football at some university. It’s cool to know that we’re connected after all of these years.
Do you have any advice for high school or college students who are interested in becoming coaches on a collegiate level?
There are a lot of young coaches who want to see themselves at the SEC level, but they don’t understand the steps that it takes to get there. And to be honest, there’s a lot of luck involved. For me, I invested everything I had into where I was at and I let God take care of whether or not something was going to come from it. Here’s an example – when I took the coaching job here, at CAC, in my mind I was going to be here for 30 years. Every step along the way I felt like, “This is it. This is where I’m going to stay.” Opportunities open up along the way and you have to stay open and listen to what God is directing you to do.
That takes a lot of faith! What part does your faith play in the way you coach?
We have core values as a team and a Christian belief is wrapped around every single one of them. I don’t have to walk across campus with a Bible – it’s just living for God and loving my players where they’re at. I try my best to show them how much I love them, and if that opens their heart up to want to talk about things past normal life and volleyball, then I love the chance to talk about those things.
Even still, I don’t hide my faith. I’m in front of my team close to 200 times a season, so there will be certain times when I talk about my faith. I want to show them – but I have to show them more with my actions rather than by getting up and preaching a sermon.
Is there a memory of CAC that comes to mind when you think about your coaching career?
We were playing Harding Academy in basketball and I missed a free throw late in the game that, in my mind, caused us to lose the game. I was pretty devastated about it. Coach V called me the next day just to check up on me, talk to me about it and help me work through it.
That was one of those moments where – even now as a coach – I see so much value in working with players who fail at times. It’s so important to walk them through those moments. We all fail. If you did your best and tried your best, it doesn’t mean that you’re always going to win, but you can look yourself in the mirror and say “It’s okay. This too will pass.”