From Helmet to Headset: A Talk With Roy Roundtree

Updated: Jan 13


I recently got to catch up with former Trotwood-Madison & Michigan alum, Roy Roundtree, about his new position as Wide Receiver Coach at Indiana State University. Roy, or Tree as we call him, has a grind and mindset that I still admire to this day. Coach Roy dropped gems on becoming a coach at the collegiate level, his goals at Indiana State, and ​how his Dayton roots prepared him for the journey.


Roy Roundtree's First Day at Indiana State

How has the transition from player to coach been?

To be honest... when I got released from Cincinnati Bengals I was torn. Felt like all the hard-work I put in went straight out the window and I didn't want to do anything but continue to play football. It was something I dreamed of as a young boy growing up. I realized after a couple of years of fighting to stay put in the league, it was a hit or miss. My mind got foggy and I didn't want to see the right picture God had for me, so I thought to myself. I have a Michigan degree why not use it. That's when my backup plan set in. I told myself if this is the path (coaching) I'm going to take, I'm going to adjust a little. I had to become more active with my alumni base. My connections of others who were already in the game. It sparked my interest more because I would just read books on how to overcome adversity. Which helped out a lot because at the time my mind wasn't seeing the picture God had for me. Once I started to plan on my backup route, I've been full throttle every since. I actually enjoy it more because I still get to wear my cleats at work, do football activities, recruit young men and teach them the fundamentals of being a great student athlete.


Roy demonstrating at Limestone photo via twitter


photo via twitter

What drew you to Indiana State?

Well it's kinda funny because I was actually still coaching at Limestone College (Division 2) in Gaffney, South Carolina and I had spoke to one of my old coaches but he never brought up about anything job related. Just checked on me and we just had a normal conversation. I'll say a week later the head coach spoke with my head coach at Limestone and that's when I heard about the Job at Indiana State. I failed to realize that in college football, the business is completely different. Yet, this is only my third year being able to coach at collegiate level so it was all new to me how switching jobs work. Indiana State was calling for me and it was an opportunity and a blessing to finally be able to get on that level (D-1) to expand my experience.

Your number 1 goal going into this off-season with the new squad?

My main goal is to learn their names. I'm saying that because being a coach you want to build that relationship. Most important thing at that level. The reason I say that because you didn't recruit them. They are changing coaching staffs, so you want to hit it off right with them. Once I do that and get to understand their story. I'll be able to move forward with what's next on my agenda. Knowing your players is the first thing to do.

What traits did you develop growing up in Dayton do you feel helped you succeed in life today?

I would say my parents and my family. Growing up with both parents really helped me become who I am today. Not trying to sound cocky or anything because some people don't actually have that opportunity to be under the same household as both parents. I was blessed to say the least. They molded me. Learned valuable lessons growing up. Dayton provided me with pee-wee, AAU and Baseball year-round. That also made me lock in on the books. I remember my parents saying "if those grades not right don't even think about playing no sports". Well I made sure I had decent grades not great, but decent. I didn't lock all the way in until high school when I wanted to play college ball. That's when I wanted to accomplish a lot more then being decent in the classroom.

Advice for former college athletes wanting to become a coach?

Well, you have to be passionate in this business. The hours you put in the office are only going to make you work that much harder when you on the field teaching. If it's something you want to do then you'll find a way to get it done. Coaching is not for everyone. Since I've switched roles it's been more of a challenge that I love because seeing your guys compete while having fun is just the minimum, but seeing them get a degree is what makes me proud because I know no one can take that from them. If you really want to excel at coaching kids then you'll adjust and accept your role as an extended Father figure.


pictured (2013): Alvin Hall (UC grad), Myself, Tree, Will Henry (Arizona State grad), Jerel Freeman (Coach)

My oldest brother, Jerel Freeman, coached us both at the WR position at Trotwood-Madison. Being 2 years under Tree, I can say that he was a true leader by example and never hesitated to share any knowledge he thought could help me along the way. He continues to be an inspiration for me and many other Dayton natives trying to make a name for ourselves.

Check out another former Trotwood alum who is pursuing her coaching dreams on the collegiate level here.

#RoyRoundtree #IndianaState #TrotwoodMadison #Michigan

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