Remembering Connor “Cheech” Roberts

Connor Roberts

Connor Roberts

Connor Roberts, a Norwich University lacrosse and football player, passed away on June, 17, from an apparent heart attack, according to final health reports.

Roberts had completed his sophomore year at Norwich University, where he majored in engineering management. Exactly one week after he turned 21, Roberts was found unresponsive in his home in St. Albans, Vt.
Teammates agreed that Roberts was incredibly popular at Norwich and well liked by all. It was an infrequent event to ever see Roberts without at least one friend walking beside him.
“He just fit in with everybody,” said Peter Troiano, 22, a senior business management major from Winchester, Mass. “He could be sitting with the football players one day, sitting with the lacrosse guys the next day, sitting with the [civilians] the next day, and then sitting with a bunch of guys in the Corps the next day.”
According to Troiano, Roberts had the potential to be one of the best midfielders Norwich lacrosse has ever had, and that the legacy of Roberts would simply be “the one that was cut too short”.
Roberts’ diverse group of friends is a testament to his outgoing personality and the frequency of which he saw each of his friends was remarkable, constantly going out of his way to interact with others.
Kaitlin White, 19, a sophomore nursing major who attended high school with Roberts in St. Albans, Vt, described him as “Overall, a really amazing guy. He had a really infectious personality.”
Roberts could often be found hanging out with his seemingly endless amount of friends, yet still maintained his grade point average, which was equally as important to him.
An avid lacrosse player at Norwich, Roberts also excelled in both football and hockey throughout his high school career at Bellows Free
Academy. Roberts always wore the number nine.
“(Connor Roberts) was a workhorse,” said Neal Anderson, Norwich University’s men’s head lacrosse coach. “He listened to instruction and applied it in ways that other athletes are still trying to find.”
Roberts’ selflessness, hard work, and leadership capabilities allowed him to lead his hockey team to a state championship in 2012. He also earned a game ball for his efforts during the men’s lacrosse regular season contest against Mount Ida College this past season.
Anderson shared a fond memory of Roberts, one that happened during the postseason matchup between Norwich and Mount Ida. “He was able to step around a defender, he stuck a shot top corner and then proceeded to salute the scoreboard which was like an exclamation mark on the day.”
Roberts had an exceptional lacrosse career at Norwich, seeing action in all of the games over his two-year career. Over the 34 games Roberts participated in, he was able to score a total of 21 points and scoop 21 ground balls.
Hard work and talent is what allowed Roberts to achieve such statistics.
“He was probably one of the best practice players I knew,” said Troiano. “He would always go really hard in practice.”
Those statistics would be more than enough to make anyone smile, and they worked their magic on Roberts who was seemingly as well known for his smile than anything else.
“Sometimes, when someone is no longer with us, it’s easier to remember them through specific events, but with Connor I just see him smiling all the time. It’s easy,” Troiano said.
Troiano was not alone. Numerous people in the Norwich community immediately pegged Roberts’ smile as what they missed most about him.
Many fondly remember Roberts’ heartwarming smile that could enhance any setting. The infectiousness of his attitude was surely a factor in how many friends Roberts had, as Roberts often made those around him smile alongside him.
“He was a person everyone got along with, and he just lightened up a room when he walked in,” said White.
It was common that Roberts would have friends stop by his room to play video games with him, and to simply enjoy his companionship.
Roberts completed his work-study hours in the equipment management area in Andrew’s hall, and even after earning his allotted amount of work study-money, he volunteered his time to make sure that all the tasks that needed to be done would get done.
Roberts often went out of his way to help others, and that was one of the main reasons he was so appreciated here at Norwich.
“I don’t think you’re going to find a person on campus that can say a negative word about him, you really couldn’t. Kudos to who Connor was,” said Anderson.
That rang true as Roberts’ funeral procession went on to be one of the most well attended ceremonies in St. Albans.
On Wednesday, Oct. 24, a remembrance ceremony was held on the Norwich campus to honor Roberts. In a brief gathering of Robert¹s family and the lacrosse team before the ceremony, Ryan Dart, 21, a junior business management major from Greenfield, Minn. said “(Connor) always did a great job at making light of a tough situation.”
Despite no longer having Roberts as an active contributing member of the Norwich community, his memory and legacy are carried on by those who knew him best: his close friends, teammates, and family.
The Norwich University men’s football team had a moment of silence for Roberts during their first game of the 2014 season against RPI. Both the football and lacrosse teams here at Norwich plan on wearing an extra sticker on their helmets; representing the number Roberts wore for each team.
The number nine, which will be worn in memory of Roberts, is likely to be worn by a junior this year, someone who has shared their entire Norwich lacrosse experience with him by their side. “Blue collar, love of the game,” is what Anderson hopes the number nine will exemplify for the upcoming years.
In memory of Roberts and his contributions to the St. Albans community, the Connor Roberts Memorial Fund for Lacrosse, a scholarship for a graduating lacrosse player from Bellows Free Academy has been organized.
Alongside the scholarship, green bracelets adorning the message “Play
Hard Play Forever” and “Cheech”, Roberts’ childhood nickname, are being sold in order to further spread the awareness of his condition. Although his condition went undiagnosed, anyone who knew Roberts could have told you he had a big heart.

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