There are so many words to describe Sarah Roberts: Mother, ministry leader, coach’s wife, mentor and friend do not even begin to cover the talents and responsibilities of this 36-year-old woman.
Many people know her name from the Together We Make Football campaign, but Sarah was inspiring and encouraging those around her long before she was featured on The Today Show or before her family won the NFL-sponsored contest.
“Somebody once told me you can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once,” Sarah said about motherhood. “It’s okay that I’m not being everything to everybody all at once. But I live by the idea of ‘be where you are.’”
And where Sarah is right now is in the spotlight. The Edmond mother has had quite a year. Sarah’s husband, Chris, is the head football coach of the Crossings Christian School football team. When one of his players lost both his parents, Sarah and Chris welcomed him into their own family, which already included children Cale (10), Chloe (8) and Case (5).
It was Christian Osterhout’s freshman year at Crossings when his father died. Going beyond his duties as a coach, Chris stepped up to mentor football player Christian, who started spending more and more time with the Roberts family. Over the next couple years, Christian’s mother battled terminal illness and it became apparent that plans would need to be made should she die. Christian asked Chris and Sarah if he could join the Roberts family, and preparations were made. When Christian’s mom died in the fall of 2014, he moved in with the Roberts family.
That’s when Sarah entered Christian into a contest sponsored by the NFL called Together We Make Football. The contest had thousands of entries but Christian’s powerful story won people over and he was named the winner of the contest at the beginning of the year and this month they’ll accept their prize as the whole family heads to the 2015 Super Bowl.
While Sarah and her husband have received a lot of attention for what they’ve done for Christian, the humble couple insists they are the ones that have been blessed by their growing family.
Even before they saw a need to help Christian, Chris and Sarah felt called to add to their family through adoption. They’re currently fostering another child, 5-year-old Elisha, who is set to be adopted soon.
“The only thing I can say about why we fostered and adopted was we were blessed with a burden,” Sarah said. “Oklahoma has one of the highest foster child ratios and although we didn’t have much, we knew we had what they needed: a family.
“After much prayer, we were sitting in church Christmas 2013 and our pastor did a message called ‘Fear Not for What God Is Asking You to Do.’ It was on Mary. Our pastor said, ‘Maybe you’re sitting here and you have three kids of your own and God is asking you to foster or adopt. Obedience is up to you and the outcome is up to God.’ We knew that was our confirmation and we signed up that week!”
While the NFL contest coverage has taught us a lot about the Roberts family, it hasn’t shown everything Sarah does behind-the-scenes.
Much of what goes on with “Team Roberts,” as Sarah affectionately refers to her family, is related to sports and athletic seasons. When Chris is in-season, Sarah takes on the lead parenting role in the home. She attends team activities, goes to games to cheer them on and even hosts meals for the team in their home. When the football season ends, Sarah’s work outside the home enters her busier season as Chris becomes the lead parent.
Sarah is the Director of Women’s Ministry for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes for Oklahoma, where she serves female coaches, athletes and wives of coaches and athletic staff. She is the chaplain for the University of Oklahoma women’s softball team, where she offers Bible studies, chapel services and provides a “ministry of presence” by attending occasional practices and being available as a resource for team and one-on-one mentoring.
Additionally, she works with a variety of other high school and collegiate teams mentoring and ministering through team building activities. She supports female coaches with emails, written letters and videos. Sarah also founded Trophy Wives, a support system under her ministry that aims to serve the wives of coaches and athletic support staff.
“I’m always learning,” Sarah explained. “At the beginning of every year, I don’t do a New Year’s resolution, I choose one word to guide me throughout the year and 2014’s word was intentional. Everything I do has a purpose.”
Her word for 2015 is “today” and as she strives to live in the present, she’s inspiring those around her to do the same. The busy mom has written a book of devotionals called “Just Ask” geared toward women in athletics that will be published by CrossTraining Publishing this spring.
Sarah sees her most important job as being mom to her five kids, which involves constant energy, love and guidance.
“When somebody says to my kids, ‘You are just like your mom,’ I want my kids to take that as a compliment and not a negative,” she said. “I want it to be a positive thing. I want them to understand that they are first and foremost my most important ministry.”
Whenever possible, Sarah includes her children in her work, bringing them to her speaking engagements and activities.
“When the kids hear me speaking to a group,” she said, “I want them to say, ‘That is the same thing that she taught us at home!’”
Twice a year, Sarah and Chris have a family meeting where they ask the children what they can do to be better parents.
“We have to be ready for their honest, sometimes gut-wrenching, truth,” she said. “We ask them and we want to know what they experience.”
As they continue to invite more children into their family, Sarah is inviting more input about what she can do better and where she falls short. Regardless of how she is portrayed on television through Christian’s story, she wants people to see an authentic side to the family, as well.
“It’s funny because when people say, ‘I don’t know how you do it,’ they are really just saying, ‘Your situation is horrible and I do not want it,’” she said. “As a mother, you don’t do it all, it’s impossible to do everything you want to do all the time. I don’t want people to read about me and say, ‘This isn’t real.’ The struggle is real. Yes, there are a lot of great things going on and I love my life, but there is still a struggle and the struggle is real. I want to encourage other moms in that way, so that they know they are not alone.”