Liz Roberts walked on to the UNC women's basketball team in 2016 — and she's never looked back.
Before the start of her senior season in 2019, Roberts was awarded a scholarship from head coach Courtney Banghart. She went on to be a graduate assistant coach for the Tar Heels last season.
“I was able to see the power that athletics has to change people’s lives and the way mine was changed because I was on the sidelines supporting the players," Roberts said. "I gained more of an appreciation for what coaches and support staff do, and that really inspired my desire to stay in college athletics."
Roberts was promoted to director of recruiting management and student-athlete engagement last month. She said the decision to take the job was an easy one.
"I’m from Chapel Hill and love this place," Roberts said. "So when the opportunity came up, it was a no-brainer.”
'The perfect fit'
Banghart first announced Roberts' promotion on Aug. 23, saying she was excited to see Roberts flourish as a leader in the women's basketball program.
"To hire a former Tar Heel into a role where she can share her love for this place and program was the perfect fit,” Banghart said. “As a grad assistant last year, Liz helped out in all facets of this program. She proved to be bright, organized, innovative and passionate about ensuring this program reaches new heights.”
Serving as a graduate assistant coach prepared Roberts for the responsibilities of her new role. The transition from being an athlete on the team to working in the office exposed Roberts to the various aspects of the program, including handling film and assisting Meghin Williams-Banx, the team's director of operations.
“Working in many different roles last year, I was able to find a place in doing whatever tasks the team needed, which was similar to my job as a walk-on,” Roberts said. “Gaining real working experience in the office prepared me for the full-time position, and I have such a strong knowledge of the program going from an athlete on the team to a member of the staff.”
Redshirt senior forward Jaelynn Murray, who played with Roberts, said she cannot wait to see what the future holds for Roberts in her new position.
“Liz has been around recruiting her whole life, so I know she will be able to bring some great, talented people to the program,” Murray said. “Liz is a positive light in the program. Everybody on the coaching staff has a positive energy flowing through practice, and Liz just adds to it.”
Along with her new full-time position, Roberts is a second-year student in UNC’s sports administration master's degree program. Last year, Roberts took 10 sports administration classes, worked sports events and taught lifetime fitness course sections. Many of the classmates she lived with in the cohort serve as a source of encouragement for her.
As she takes on a new leadership role, Roberts is also working on a thesis that relates directly to her experience at UNC.
“I’m studying an analysis of experience in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament and trying to see if that’s a predictor for success,” she said. “I love the topic and I’m living it every day. It doesn’t disrupt my work, it just adds more knowledge onto the base that I’m gaining with this full-time role.”