When Pinkerton Academy boys track coach Wally Roberts was retiring in the spring of 2012, Ian French started a Facebook page to gather some memories.
“The response was nothing short of incredible. I created the page only about four days before the end of the season and in that time hundreds of people joined the page and wrote some wonderful things about Walter and the effect he had on their lives,” said French.
“I printed it out to give to him at the Division 1 championship meet and it was 46 pages long. It was pretty clear that this was someone who was more than just a great coach, he was an exceptional person. The world is simply a less bright place without him in it.”
Roberts, 60, of Hampstead, died Friday at Boston Medical Center.
In 21 years as indoor track coach, his Pinkerton teams went 488-53-1 (most of the meets included numerous teams), won the 1993 state title and were runner-up in 1995, 2000 and 2001. In 23 years in spring track, his squads had a 116-28 dual meet record and won state titles in 194 and 2012 and were second in 1995 and 2001.
The spring 2012 championship came down to the final event. The Astros won the 4x400 relay to earn the dramatic championship. Afterward, relay member John Keisling said, “We had to win it for Coach, and there couldn’t have been a more perfect way to end it.”
He was named Eagle-Tribune and NHIAA Boys Track Coach of the Year that season. He also was a longtime assistant for the Pinkerton football team, helping the Astros to several more titles.
For a coach who won an awful lot, though, Wally Roberts was never about wins and losses.
For that, Mark Daniels is eternally grateful.
A record-setting middle school sprinter at the Hood School, Daniels’ career at Pinkerton never took off due to a series of hamstring injuries.