By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Bill and Maggie Roller relish their roles as golf coaches at Regent Preparatory Academy, and it’s more than just about drivers, putters greens and fairways. They use it as a vehicle for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I think sports is a vehicle to share the gospel,” Bill Roller said. “And we love the sport (golf). So, it’s a great mix.”
Two of their three children are establishing solid prep careers on the fairways.
Their daughter Jenni, a freshman, was crowned the 2A girls individual champion on May 2 in Guthrie. She finished with 2-under-142, which included a second round score of 3-under-69. It was also the first year as a program for the Lady Rams who finished runner up as a team after coming up shy in a playoff to Oklahoma Christian. Both teams finished with a two-round score of 750.
“It was really cool to win state. I wasn’t expecting it all,” Jenni Roller said. “What was most meaningful was getting to play with my team. It was really cool to get experience with my team, rather than as an individual, because we didn’t know this year if we were going to have a team or not. So that made it all the more memorable, playing with my team.”
Their son, J.P., who was top individual medalist last year, helped the team win the Class 2A boys championship May 7 at Tulsa Country Club. Regent won with a three-round score of 882 strokes, eight lower than runner-up Oklahoma Christian (890). It was the Rams’ second straight championship.
“It was really cool,” said J.P. Roller, who took fourth as individual. “We won last year, so we knew we were going to win going into it. But, this year, we kind of came in as the underdog. We were projected to not win and to come out on top was really awesome.
“Jackson White, our No. 2 Bag, and I had been playing consistent all year,” J.P. said. “Then our No. 3 bag, Grant Benjamin, he was probably the key to us winning. He shot 72 and 70 in the first two rounds and that gave us that edge going into the last day.”
Benjamin finished at sixth with 223 shots, White took third with 207, 69 in each round. At fourth, J.P. Roller logged 210, with 68 in the first 18 holes being his best round.
J.P., who will be a senior next year, is already committed to play college golf at Texas Tech.
Both Roller siblings said their faith in God helps with their attitude, cool and composure while playing the game.
Another son, James, is involved with the school’s football, basketball and baseball teams.
Maggie Roller, a member of the University of Tulsa women’s 1988 National Championship team, helped get the boys program started in 2013.
Bill Roller was a coach for the Jenks programs for 37 years before retiring last year. He helped in getting Regent’s girls program and now serves as it coach.
“Our daughter was about to be a freshman, so it was a good fit,” Bill Roller said. “There were also five girls who wanted to play.”
At one time, Bill was involved with baseball and basketball, but he later discovered a love for the links.
“I loved playing it (golf) and I just liked how golfers can control their shots. I like being outdoors and going to different courses. Every baseball field is the same, every basketball court is the same and every football field is the same. But, every golf course is different.”
Fellowship with people and adoring the beauty of creation in the background also factor in for their love of the game.
“In getting to know the boys on my golf team, I have found their personalities are all different,” Maggie Roller said. “I love talking about the Lord with them. You’re out there over four hours. I feel like God has put me in a role to witness to these athletes. I have a big responsibility to point them to Christ.”
The Rollers have seen a lot of eyes and hearts open up while sharing the Gospel.
“My boys will tell you that’s the number one thing. That’s what I talk about to hotel clerks, restaurant waitresses and waiters, it’s always at the forefront of my mind. That’s why I love golf because it is a vehicle to share Christ.”
Additional Regent Sports News
Ellie Gilbreath and Natalie Cleveland placed first and second respectively in a few events at the Class 2A state track and field meet May 4 in Oklahoma City. While winning the gold and completing a prominent prep career, Gilbreath set two meet records with her times in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs. She finished the races with respective times of 5:18.70 and 11:25.53. Gilbreath also won the 800-meter run with a time of 2:18.32. In winning the silver, Cleveland finished with respective times of 5:26.20, 11:58.18 and 2:23.92.