Section VI series spotlights Wilson AD
Section VI officials are spotlighting members of the section’s Athletic Council and the most recent member spotlighted in this series is Wilson Athletic Director Jeff Roth who is the Niagara-Orleans League girls sports representative on the Council.
Wilson High Athletic Director Jeff Roth officially entered the family business in 1998. The path that he started down really seemed preordained and already chosen for him.
As a youngster, there were plenty of trips to assorted Grand Island games with his Dad, Viking mainstay, Jon. There may even have been child labor laws compromised, as Jeff was the towel and water kid for his Dad’s teams. Back then, no one asked questions or called the authorities. He was immersed in the family business and we all know how difficult it is to get out once you are in.
The 1993 Grand Island graduate, was a three-sport athlete competing in soccer, basketball and tennis for the Vikings. He excelled in tennis and earned a spot at Division 1, Xavier University in Cincinnati, and a member of the Atlantic-10 Conference. He competed five years for the Musketeers, earning a medical redshirt after tearing his ACL.
The 1998 graduate is still 23rd in career wins at singles with 47 and combined with doubles play, Roth is 26th in total career victories. In 1997-98, he led the team in singles and doubles wins after being second in wins in 1994-95.
Niagara Falls became his extended family in 1998 when the Niagara Frontier League school hired him to teach Health and coach tennis. Working with the girl’s team for nine seasons and the boys for eight, he led the Wolverines to two NFL titles with the boys and added a girl’s championship as well.
The 2005 girl’s squad earned the first and only tennis title in school history. Roth’s boys teams of 2005-06 won back-to-back titles and the school’s first since 1977.
He also earned his Master’s at Canisius College in 2003 while teaching and coaching at Niagara Falls.
After nine years in the Cataract City, Jeff went to the Ken-Ton Schools as Assistant Athletic Director where he served three years.
Due to budget reductions in Ken-Ton, Roth then interviewed at Wilson and became the Athletic Director/Assistant Principal.
This fall marks the start of his 11th year with the Lakemen/Lakewomen. He has since added Director of Communications to his workload.
Wilson Superintendent, Tim Carter feels fortunate that Roth is in Wilson, “I am constantly amazed by the participation and attendance rates at events by both kids and parents. Then I quickly realized that the participation and enthusiasm for the program is a reflection of the person running the Athletics program”.
Carter continues, “Jeff is constantly looking for ways to improve the program and to make our children’s experience better. He works closely with our coaches to hold our students accountable for their academics, attendance and behavior. He truly understands that our kids are student-athletes.:”
This is evident in the number of our students who are scholar athletes each year and the many years Wilson has been named a School of Distinction by NYSPHSAA.
One of Roth’s best and most successful coaches is Brian Baker, “Jeff is one of the most supportive and caring people I have ever worked for. As an Athletic Director, Jeff has worked countless hours to build our Wilson sports program into one of the strongest in WNY. Our district and coaching staff is very lucky to have such a compassionate leader”.
Roth believes in and is committed to lifelong learning. He has made time to involve himself in professional organizations.
He serves on the Chapter VI New York State Athletic Administrators Association’s (NYSAAA) Executive Committee and was on the Planning Committee for the NYSAAA annual conference. He also chairs the Scholar-Athlete committee for Section VI, which is a huge undertaking.
Jeff and his wife, Andrea have two children, Addison (4) and Jayce (2). Family is vitally important to Jeff.
Another important role for Jeff is as the uncle for four very active boys and the sons of beloved late sister, Julie. Jeff and Julie seemed like twins to most because they were so close, yet three years actually separated Jon and Jean’s kids, with Jeff being the eldest.
Julie followed the brother she loved to Xavier, herself a Division 1 tennis player. She too played three sports for the Grand Island Vikings. It is no surprise to anyone that Julie is ranked 32nd in career single wins at Xavier (49) with 23 more victories in doubles.
The family business is education and making lives better for students. At least 10 family members are currently teaching, or are retired educators. It is a calling for most and a matter of pride for all. A generational compass steers them all to education.
In Godfather III, Michael Corleone famously said, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in”.
The family business has a draw, a pull. From riding in the front seat of a GI bus with Dad, to being a mascot for Viking athletes that he still considers legends, Jeff accepted his fate.
He fell in line with the other nine teachers in the family. He is doing what was intended of him decades ago. Wilson, their students and our entire Section are so much better for it.