Roberto Vives enters his 32nd season as the director of UAlbany's track & field and cross country programs in 2016-17. In that period, Vives has coached 148 All-America athletes and 14 individual NCAA champions. Ten of his athletes have been inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame, the most recent individuals being Samantha Cohen and Howard Sellers in 2011, and the 1984 Men's and Women's Cross Country Teams in 2014.
With the leadership of Vives, the UAlbany track and field/cross country programs have won 47 America East, four IC4A, and one ECAC Championships since 2003, including a sweep of the men's and women's indoor and outdoor America East championships in 2016-17.
The men and women swept the America East Outdoor Championships once again in 2017, with the men winning their 13th-straight and the women winning their ninth-straight. The men scored 166 points behind six event wins and the women scored 190 points behind seven event victories. Stephanie Osuji scored the most points of any woman in the meet, securing the 2017 Outdoor Coaches Award, and Kiyah Owens was named women's Most Outstanding Rookie. The team brought eight competitors to NCAA East Preliminary Championships in Kentucky, where freshman Adrian Mitchell advanced to NCAA Outdoor Championships in the men's javelin. Mitchell would go on to earn Second Team All-America Honors at outdoor championships, placing 14th overall. The season closed with two freshman, Hannah Reinhardt and Omahri Sturdivant, competing at USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, the same weekend Mitchell won the Jamaica Senior Outdoor Championships in the javelin, Grace Claxton qualified in the women's 400m hurdles for the 2017 IAAF World Outdoor Championships, and Osuji tied the school record in the women's 100m at Trinidad National Championships.
Indoors, the men and women swept the America East Indoor Championships. The men won their 12th-consecutive team title and the women won their fifth consecutive. The men scored 205 points and won a program-best 10 events. The women scored 212 points and won seven events. Three Great Danes, Matthew LeLiever, Grace Claxton, and Chinwe Igwe, each set championship meet records in their respective events, with Claxton and Igwe improving upon their own records. Stefan Buechele was named men's Most Outstanding Field Performer, and the coaches swept the men's and women's Staff of the Year Awards. Two weeks later, the men and women won the IC4A and ECAC Indoor Championships, respectively. It was the men's third IC4A indoor title and fourth overall, and the women's first ever. Grace Claxton and Matthew Campbell went on to each earn Second Team All-America Honors at NCAA Indoor Championships in the women's 400m and men's high jump, respectively. After the season, Vives was named USTFCCCA Northeast Men's Head Coach of the Year.
Summer 2016 saw Grace Claxton compete in the Rio Olympics in the 400m hurdles for her native Puerto Rico. She placed 14th overall, advancing as far as the semifinal round.
The summer also saw freshman Myles Banfield advance to IAAF Junior World Outdoor Championships in Poland for his native Canada. He placed 20th overall in the 400m.
The 2016 outdoor season saw the most successful trip to the Penn Relays in program history. Grace Claxton became the program's first-ever Penn Relays individual champion, winning the women's 400m hurdles. Alexander Bowen Jr. next became the first men's individual champion in program history, winning the men's high jump. Additionally, the women's 4x100m relay team of Stephanie Osuji, Chanel Smith, Claxton, and Taahira Butterfield won the women's ECAC 4x100m title en route to a new school record, and the men's 4x400m relay of Taariq Jones, Myles Banfield, Momodou Jobe, and Jason Tomlinson, became the first-ever men's 4x400 relay to qualify for the Championship of America, where they placed sixth overall.
The men and women once again swept the America East Outdoor Championships in 2016. The men won their 12th-consecutive outdoor title, scoring 219 points, and the women won their eighth consecutive, scoring 173 points. Taariq Jones and Grace Claxton earned the men's and women's Coaches Award respectively, for scoring the most points in the meet. Jones also won the America East Elite-18 award, which recognizes the student-athlete with the highest GPA among the top point-scorers. Finally, the men's staff was honored as men's Staff of the Year.
10 student-athletes made the trip to NCAA East Preliminary Championships, with two, Grace Claxton and Matthew Campbell, advancing to NCAA Outdoor Championships. Campbell would place seventh overall in the men's high jump, earning First Team All-America Honors, and Claxton would place ninth, earning Second Team All-America Honors. After the season, Anika Hibbard and Cara Sherman competed in USATF Junior Outdoor Championships, and Alexander Bowen competed for Panama in the Ibero-American Championships.
Between the indoor and outdoor season in 2016, Grace Claxton competed at the IAAF World Indoor Championships for her native Puerto Rico. She advanced to the semifinals in the women's 400m, placing 11th overall.
Vives oversaw yet another postseason sweep with the 2016 America East Indoor Championships. The men scored 180 points to win their 11th-straight title and the women scored 210 points, winning their fourth-straight. Osiris Nicholson was named men's Outstanding Rookie, the men's coaches were honored as Staff of the Year, and Grace Claxton and Chinwe Igwe were named women's Outstanding Track and Outstanding Field performers, respectively. After the men and women each placed second at the IC4A and ECAC Indoor Championships, tying a program-best finish for the women, four Great Danes, Taariq Jones, Jonathan Eustache, Jordan Crump-King, and Chinwe Igwe, participated in the USATF Indoor National Championships.
In May of 2015, Vives was chosen by USA Track & Field to serve as an assistant coach for the USA national team at the North America, Central America, and Caribbean Senior Area Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica. He oversaw the men's jumping and combined events. Two of his athletes took home gold medals at the meet.
During the 2015 outdoor season, Vives guided the men to their 11th consecutive America East Outdoor Championship meet, and the 12th win in the last 13 years. The team earned 192.5 points, beating out second-place UMBC by 66.5 points, while claiming victory in six events. They were awarded Coaching Staff of the Year, while Devon Willis was named Most Outstanding Rookie with a first place in the triple jump, marking a season-best 49'-10.5”. Jaymen Teemer earned the Coaches' Award for the highest point-scorer. He scored 22 points in three events including the 4x100 meter-relay, 100-meter dash, and the 200-meter dash. The men went on to compete at the IC4A Championships, where they earned a second place finish.
For the seventh time in as many years, and for the 10th time in 11 years, the University at Albany women's track & field program won the America East Outdoor Championships. The women also claimed Coaching Staff of the Year. They finished with 227 points and claimed victory in eight events, and set five new school records. Janice Johnson, Zoe Doolittle, Michelle Anthony, Grace Claxton all earned individual crowns, while the 4x100 meter-relay and 4x800 meter-relay also captured titles. The UAlbany women also competed at the ECAC Championship, where they placed fourth overall.
For the third consecutive year, and fifth in their last six years, the women's squad captured the America East indoor track and field championship, as they compiled wins in six events. The Great Danes earned a total of 197.66 points in the victory and the women's coaching staff won the Coaching Staff of the Year Award, which they shared with the staff from UMBC. The UAlbany women's team also placed second out of 48 competing teams at the ECAC Championships, accumulating 48 points in the program's best-ever finish at the meet.
The UAlbany men won the America East Indoor Championships with 191 points, for the 10th consecutive season. The men's team holds the conference record for total indoor titles having won 12 out of the last 13 championships. In addition to winning six event titles, the Great Danes captured the Most Outstanding Men's Field Performer (Alexander Bowen) and the Coaching Staff of the Year Award. The UAlbany men's team also competed in the IC4A Championship, where they placed third. Jason Tomlinson broke the school record in the 500 meter-dash with a time of 1:01.63, which ranked second nationally in 2015, behind only Canadian Olympian's Brandon McBride.
In 2014, Vives was selected to receive the Citizen of the University Award. Chosen by University leadership, the award recognizes contributions to the University by a non-alumnus or alumna through leadership, service, or a special gift. He was also the recipient of the Irv Mondschein Coaching Award, as a track & field coach with an exemplary record. The winner is chosen out of the Division I coaches who have partaken in the Armory Track Invitational. Since its origination in 2002, past recipients include Ernest Barrett from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (2015) Villanova's Macrus O'Sullivan and Gina Procaccio (2013), Wisconsin's Mick Byrne (2012), Georgetown's Frank Gagliano (2009), Ohio State's Russ Rogers (2006), and Irv Mondschein himself (2004).
In 2013-14, With the leadership of Vives, the UAlbany track and field/cross country programs swep the men's and women's indoor and outdoor America East championships in 2012-13.
Winning by a margin of over 100 points, the women's squad captured its third America East indoor track and field championship in four years, as eight athletes won individual titles. The Great Danes broke a conference record, totaling 233.50 points in the victory. UAlbany also placed fourth out of 53 competing teams at the ECAC Championships, accumulating 35 points in the program's best-ever finish at the meet.
Meanwhile, with a conference record 231.50 points, the UAlbany men ran away with its eighth straight America East indoor track and field title. The championship tied a conference record for total indoor titles, 10, done in the fastest amount of time for a member school – just 11 years. In addition to winning six event titles, the Great Danes captured the Most Outstanding Field Performer (Alexander Bowen), the top-scoring track athlete (Jonathan Santana), and the program's 17th Coaching Staff of the Year award.
In the 2013 outdoor season, Vives led the men to their 10th outdoor America East title since 2003, including nine consecutive victories. UAlbany accrued 230.5 points, which was 54 points better than second-place UMBC. Bowen was named the Most Outstanding Field Performer for the second time in the same year, breaking the conference record in the high jump, clearing 7 feet 3.25 inches, as four Great Dane individuals won event titles. The women won the America East Outdoor Championship title for the fifth straight season, finishing was 109 points better than their nearest opponent, and totaling a conference-record 245 points in the title meet. Ashley Grant, Tynelle Taylor-Chase, Alli Rogers, and Pat McNish all captured individual titles, while the Great Danes swept the relay golds in the 4x100, 4x400, and 4x800.
Under Vives' watch in 2011-12, the Great Danes became the first men's team since 1998 (New Hampshire) to sweep the cross country, indoor, and outdoor track and field America East titles.UAlbany took their seventh straight America East men's indoor track and field championship. In addition, the women earned their fourth straight outdoor America East title. Vives also headed the Men's Indoor and the Women's Outdoor Coaching Staffs of the Year.
In 2010-11, the men's indoor team notched their sixth straight America East Conference Championship, while the women won their second straight conference championship. The women posted 206.5 points, nearly breaking a conference record set by Boston U. in 2007 with 206.83 points. During the outdoor season, the men's team won their seventh conference consecutive title while setting both a meet and school record in the triple jump. Senior Nasim Siddeeq leaped 52-feet, 1.25 inches to break a conference record set in 1991. The women took their third straight conference championship with 174 points.
In 2009-10, UAlbany became the first school to win all four America East Conference track & field championships in the same academic year. The men's team also became the first program to win its second straight IC4A indoor crown since Georgetown accomplished the feat in 2000, while the women earned their highest finish in program history at the ECAC indoor meet by tying for 12th in the team standings. In addition, the men set America East records by winning their sixth straight outdoor championship and fifth consecutive indoor title. For their efforts, Vives and his group of assistants were chosen as the America East Conference men's and women's indoor and men's outdoor coaching staffs of the year. Vives was also named the Division I Indoor Track Northeast Region Men's Head Coach of the Year by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA). Short sprinter Fey Adaramola was named the America East Conference Track Athlete of the Year, while long sprinter Jonathan Santana took home the league's top rookie honor at the indoor conference championship.
In addition to winning the most championships, Vives' athletes received more academic awards than any other school in the America East Conference. Valete Graham was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Men's Track & Field and Cross Country third team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). He was also honored as the America East Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, both indoors and outdoors, while Adaramola earned the same recognition during the indoor season. UAlbany had four men and three women named to America East Conference Indoor Track & Field All-Academic Team, two men and two women honored on the league's outdoor all-academic team and four members make the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team. The women's squad was also honored as a USTFCCCA All-Academic Team after posting a 3.12 team grade point average, its highest in program history.
Vives orchestrated a dream season for the UAlbany men's and women's track and field programs in which they combined to win five championships during the 2008-09 campaign. In addition to winning the America East Conference indoor and outdoor team titles, the men's program became the first school to sweep the IC4A team championships since Rutgers in 2005. UAlbany had three student-athletes garner All-America honors outdoors and sent four to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships, both program bests. The squad's tenth-place finish at the NCAA East Regional Championship and 40th-place standing at the national meet were its highest ever. Luke Schoen was also named the first indoor All-American in a field event, while Nasim Siddeeq was honored as the USTFCCCA and America East Conference Field Athlete of the Year in the winter.
The women's program won its third America East outdoor championship in four years despite being picked to finish third in the preseason coaches poll. In addition, the squad finished fifth at the ECAC outdoor championship with 39 points, both program bests, behind two Atlantic Coast and two Big East conference schools. UAlbany had never finished higher than 23rd at the meet. Jenn Gurrant swept the ECAC triple jump titles, and Kamilah McShine was named the America East Conference Field Athlete of the Year and recipient of the Coaches' Award indoors for accumulating the most points at the conference championship.
In addition, UAlbany had four men and three women named to America East Conference Indoor Track & Field All-Academic Team, three men and three women honored on the league's outdoor all-academic team and five members make the USTFCCCA All-Academic Team. All of these marks ranked first among the nine America East institutions.
Vives has guided the men's team to 21 America East Conference championships and the women's squad to 10 titles. For his efforts, Vives has been the recipient of 17 America East Coaching Staff of the Year awards. He was also named the USTFCCCA Northeast Region Coach of the Year in 2006 and 2010 and received the IC4A Service Award in 2008 for 25 years of coaching. He was also honored with the Irv Mondschein Coaching award in 2014. In 1994, he garnered UAlbany's Chancellor Award and President's Award for excellence in professional service.
Vives was an administrator and coach at the U.S. Olympic Festival in 1993, 1994 and 1995. He also served as CTC President, the USAT&F East Men's Development Chair and was also a member of the Division I Executive Committee for the USTFCCCA from 2003-06.
Under his tutelage, seven UAlbany track and field athletes have gone on to earn a total of 12 All-America certificates at the NCAA Track & Field Division I Championships. After Gered Burns became the program's first Division I All-American in the 800-meter run at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, Joe Greene (400-meter hurdles) and Marc Pallozzi (javelin throw) became the first two Great Dane track and field athletes to accomplish the same feat outdoors at the 2006 and 2007 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Schoen became UAlbany's fourth All-American and garnered the program's sixth All-America certificate when he placed fifth in the pole vault at the NCAAs in 2008. The pole vaulter earned All-America honors both indoors and outdoors in 2009, while Greene and Ricardo Estremera (3,000-meter steeplechase) each garnered the laurel at the outdoor meet.
Vives has also coached 11 Junior National All-Americans since 2004, including James Sommer in 2013. In 2012, Alexander Bowen became UAlbany's first USA Junior National Champion when he captured the high jump title. Matthew Catera (decathlon), Sean Halpin (1,500m), Tyler Fogarty(800m), John Moore, Joe Greene (400m H), Alyssa Lotmore, Ryan Gaedje (3,000m steeplechase), Jessica Ortman (800m), and Jenna Ortman (1,500m) also earned Junior All-America honors under Vives' watch. In 2007, Moore placed second in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:50.50 and went on to win a bronze medal in the event (1:49.17) at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships. In 2006, Greene finished second in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in a time of 50.70 seconds. Greene's performance qualified him to compete at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing, China. Following the 2009 spring season, Greene started competing professionally, including the European circuit.
Vives began his coaching career at the age of 14 when he founded the Bronx International Athletic Club (BIAC). The BIAC grew to include 200 members and helped produce six Olympians. He was an assistant coach during his senior year at Cardinal Hayes High School, where he worked with Ron McCray, the Catholic High School city champion in the 300-yard dash indoors and the long jump outdoors.
Vives returned to Cardinal Hayes in 1979 as head track and field coach. He spent three years at his alma mater prior to his appointment as boys' track and field coach at Bronx High School of Science, a position he held until moving to UAlbany in the fall of 1985. Vives also coached one season at Lehman College.
The native of Bronx, N.Y. attended Seton Hall University, where he was a Dean's List student and a member of the track and field team. He earned a bachelor's degree in health, physical education and recreation in 1978 and later received a master's degree in health education from City College of New York in 1980, where he also served as an assistant men's track & field coach.
As an athlete, Vives competed in the high hurdles, high jump, relays and the decathlon. He was the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Metropolitan high hurdle champion in 1978. Vives, who is a certified Taekwondo Karate Instructor and holds a second-degree black belt, was also the 110-meter hurdles masters champion at the 1991 and 1999 Empire State Games.
He currently resides in Selkirk with his wife, Valrene. They have two adult children, Andres and Ashley.