Ruby Roberts is making a name for herself at WSU

Nate Asbury | Evergreen cross country reporter

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Some athletes are defined by their crowning moments, but legends are defined by their continual greatness. For many, greatness comes from competition, but a true icon is defined by what is accomplished on an everyday basis. Ruby Roberts, a standout on the WSU cross country team, is exactly that type of legend.

Roberts, a redshirt senior from Kingston, Washington, embodies the type of competitor WSU Cross Country Coach Wayne Phipps wants on his team. As a duel sport athlete in both cross country and track and field, Ruby has dominated the competition at every stage of her career.

Ruby left Kingston High School as a six-time varsity letter winner. As a cross country runner, she won the 2A state meet twice (2007 and 2009) while also placing second in state during her junior year. On the track, Ruby currently holds the school records in both the 3000-meter and 5000-meter races.

Finishing as a Pac-12 All-Academic team member five times, she has also created a big name for herself off the course as well.

Yet despite all the accolades entering this season, Ruby said she didn’t set too many expectations for herself.

“It was a new year, new coaching staff. I was excited because I heard great things about the coaches coming in… and our team (is) relatively young,” Roberts said. “So as far as expectations go, I really only expected good things.”

Despite being one of the older runners on the team, Ruby expressed excitement for the newcomers.

“Actually it was great having so many young runners. They have so much positive energy and excitement. They almost bring a new life to the team,” Roberts said. “There were a couple years there where the energy wasn’t so good, and I think this group has really turned everything around and we’ve created a much better, positive environment.”

That positive energy is exactly what coaches love about Ruby. Before the season started, head coach Wayne Phipps was elated to have Ruby there to kick off the new era.

“Ruby is such a positive person,” Phipps said, “She’s a great athlete, student, and above all else person.”

Assistant Coach Allix Potratz-Lee said Roberts’ leadership skills were impressive.

“She is an amazing and natural leader — someone who brings people together effortlessly because of the way she genuinely cares for and supports everyone around her,” Potratz-Lee said.

As for leaving a legacy after the season ends, Roberts’ focus is on the team, not herself.

“I hope that I can be a part of transitioning this team into a new era that is a lot more positive and high-achieving, but also kind of looks out for everyone — I guess more of a team orientated approach to things,” Roberts said.

As WSU gets ready to say a tough goodbye to one of its standouts, Roberts’ impact echoes throughout the Palouse.

“Ruby is irreplaceable. As cliché as it may sound, she lights up every room — or field, or track, or gym — that she is in. Not only is she immensely talented but kind, compassionate, dedicated, and incredibly hardworking,” Potratz-Lee said.

Ruby, who will graduate this winter with two majors, human development and fine arts, and isn’t quite sure what her next step is.

“Everybody keeps asking me what’s next,” Roberts said, “I’m hoping to move back to the Seattle area and start working within my career field.”

“I want to keep running and I haven’t figured out in what capacity that’s going to be yet. I might take a little break; I guess I’m just going to play it as it goes really,” she said.

If there’s one thing that’s certain about Ruby moving forward, her time as a Cougar runner will forever be remembered. Fast and dominant, yet humble and kind, Ruby Roberts will go down as a true Cougar legend.