Robbielyn “Obie” Roberson has gone from cooking food in Florida A&M’s cafeteria to catching strikes on the softball diamond.
Roberson, who worked as a chef from August 2011 to January 2012, experienced a shaky road back to softball after quitting shortly after high school. Nonetheless, Roberson held on to her dream of returning to the field.
That dream became reality in 2011 during Roberson’s vending shift at Bragg Memorial Stadium. During that football game, she met Veronica Wiggins, head coach of the Lady Rattlers softball team. Shortly after, Wiggins offered Roberson a spot on the team as a catcher.
“I always came up fighting the odds,” the 21-year-old said. “Just believe in yourself and believe you can do anything no matter the situation. You can achieve it.”
Roberson began playing sports at a young age. She attended Hamilton County High School where she played volleyball, soccer and softball.
“Growing up, both my parents were very athletic,” Roberson said. “My mom actually taught me how to throw the softball and football, and even in soccer. So she always kept me pretty involved.”
When Roberson was 16 years old, she played for the Gainesville Gold, a traveling softball team. This experience ignited her love of the game and her journey to the college level.
After she graduated high school, she registered as a full-time student at South Florida Community College and joined its softball team.
After one year with SFCC, Roberson transferred to Northwood University in West Palm Beach. There, she played softball for a season but took a year off because she was ill with momonucleosis. Roberson’s spleen was enlarged, and she was unable to participate in vigorous activity.
“After I played at Northwood University in West Palm, I just realized that I never gave myself a chance or thought I could play at Division-I school,” Roberson said.
Looking to revive her softball career, Roberson eventually met with Craig Snider, Florida State’s assistant softball coach, about a playing opportunity. Enrollment problems, however, prevented the transfer.
“I had a few complications in the transfer process and was going to have to wait a complete year before I could enroll at FSU,” Roberson said.
When transferring to FSU did not work out, Roberson decided to work at FAMU’s cafeteria. This job eventually led to a starting position as a catcher for its softball team.
I was in need of a job since I was not in school and they were hiring,” Roberson said. “It was a blessing in disguise. If I didn’t work at the cafÃ©, I would have never played softball for FAMU.”
Roberson said she enjoyed her kitchen days because she could observe people in their normal environment.
“I liked the fact that no one knew who I was because you get to see people in their true form,” Roberson said.
In 23 games this season, Roberson has a .961 fielding percentage. Wiggins said Roberson “is very knowledgeable of the game.”
Whitney Robinson, a senior pitcher from Virginia Beach, Va., said she and Roberson have developed a bond.
“Obie brings out the confidence in me because she lets me know I’m doing great,” Robinson said. “And she’s very reassuring.”
Roberson said the team has become an addition to her family.
“You always hear about a team being a family and I never experienced that,” Roberson said. “I never understood it until I came to this team.”