Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Gustavus' Don Roberts dies

Sad news out of Gustavus Adolphus College and St. Peter as legendary coach Don Roberts died on Sunday after a battle with degenerative heart disease. He was 83.

Free Press sports editor Jim Rueda wrote about Roberts in Tuesday's paper. You can read more about Roberts on the Gustavus website, too.

Roberts, whom Gustavus named its hockey rink after, coached the Gusties hockey team from 1964 to 1997 and retired as the winningest coach in NCAA Division III history. He compiled a 532-290-25 record over 33 seasons, winning 13 MIAC titles. His win total currently ranks 20th all-time in college hockey and sixth in DIII.

Not bad for a guy who, as a student at Gustavus, played football, basketball and baseball.

I didn't have the chance to cover Roberts or his teams, having arrived in Mankato in 2000. However, he often could be seen at Gustie games, and it was always a pleasure to talk to him.

I ran into former Minnesota State coach Don Brose on Monday (he is quoted in Rueda's piece linked above), and he said Roberts was instrumental in helping MSU get its hockey program started. Brose said Roberts allowed Brose's early teams to use the Gustavus rink. The two teams eventually developed an intense but friendly rivalry, one that lasted until MSU upgraded to Division I in 1997.

According to Gustavus, a private family service for Roberts will be held this week, however a public service celebrating his life will be held in Christ Chapel on the Gustavus campus in the very near future. Details will be announced in the coming days.

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