Editor's note: This is the latest in a series of profiles of local athletes.
The Roberts family has cemented its legacy with Haverhill High hockey.
Joe Roberts was captain of the team in the 1984-1985 season. Barney Roberts was captain in the 1986-1987 season. Pat Roberts captained the squad in 2008-2009.
Now, in the 2011-2012 season, Jeff Roberts — son of Joe, nephew of Barney and brother of Pat — has become the fourth member of the Roberts family to be named captain of the Hillies hockey team.
"He's the best captain we've ever had here at Haverhill High," said Haverhill coach Spike Sprague, who coached each of the four Roberts players. "He follows in the footsteps of his brother, uncle and father. He is a great role model and he has complete respect from the team.''
Much of why Sprague considers Jeff to be the best of the Roberts bunch is the leadership he has shown in what has been a disappointing year for the Hillies. Haverhill has two wins and 11 losses on the season, enduring an eight-game losing streak during the campaign. Through it all, Roberts has tried to keep the team's spirits positive.
"The way he performs on and off the ice, you wouldn't know that we are (2-11)," Sprague said. "You would think we are (11-2). He never stops working hard and that rubs off on the rest of the team."
Roberts is tied with fellow senior Jeremy Noone for the team lead in goals with seven on the season. Many of Roberts' goals come from when he is stationed in front of the net, jamming away at loose pucks in the crease while taking a pounding from the opposing team's defensemen.
"He plays the way we want our kids to play," Sprague said. "He gets to those dirty areas of the ice that no one wants to go to."