ROGER Adams passed away at his home in Thornton, Cape Town, last night. He was 51.
Adams had made his mark as a top athletics coach at the University of the Western Cape in Bellville.
A former athlete of Adams, Melody Marcus (Cupido) was distraught when she heard of the passing of her former varsity coach.
“I was shocked when I woke up to the news that Roger Adams passed away,” says the former South African Senior Schools Sports Association (SASSSA) cross country champion and South African Amateur Athletics Board (SAAAB) track, cross country and road champion.
“He was my dearly beloved coach, friend, mentor and role model. I will surely miss him. May his soul rest in peace.”
Former Western Province senior schools speedster Havilyn Elders, a teacher at Bellville South High, introduced Marcus to Adams when she enrolled at UWC in the early 1990s.
“Roger worked in the sports department of the university,” recalls Marcus, who had gone on to become an international athlete during democracy.
“Roger was instrumental not only in my life, but also in that of many other athletes he came into contact with.”
Adams went on to become a sports administrator at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, before returning to Cape Town, where he worked at the University of Cape Town.
Marcus remembers her years at UWC:
“Roger had a deep commitment to athletics and rugby. In his capacity as coach and sports administrator he touched the lives of many. One particular example comes to mind: Elijah Mutandiro from Zimbabwe. Roger took him in; gave him, his wife, child and brother accommodation; and made sure they had a meal each day. When it came to Two Oceans Marathon time, Mutandiro and his fellow Zimbabweans knew they could come to Cape Town, as Roger Adams’ home was always open to them and anybody else who needed a place to stay.”
Adams developed the UWC athletics club into a fine unit, having athletes of the calibre of Derick Fredericks, Kevin Kiewits, Bobang Phiri, Ebenezer Felix and Donovan Wright on his books.
Former SASSSA and SAAAB champion in all three disciplines of athletics Owen Machelm has high praise for his friend.
“Roger was a person who had strong character and leadership skills. He was a good mentor. The times we had at UWC with Donny (Wright), Mel (Marcus/Cupido), Kevin (Kiewits) and my cousin Charles were ‘lekker’. There was never a dull moment with these guys around. We spoke about life at varsity, discipline in sport, and how it can benefit one’s life in general. Last year, at the Sevens rugby at Green Point Stadium, we chatted as friends on a personal level. He spoke deeply about things that affected him – his life-long personal struggles.”
Adams is survived by his wife and two children.