When SI deputy copy chief Pam Roberts was growing up in the early 1970s, back when Brad Park and Rod Gilbert were icing the puck fantastic for the New York Rangers, the most honored of her family's traditions took place on wintry Saturday nights. That's when the members of the Roberts clan repaired to the living room of their home in Astoria, Queens, and gathered in front of their 25-inch Admiral television. There, for close to three raucous hours, Pam and her parents, Eddy and Lillian, and her five siblings—Pat, Kim, Eddie, Dennis and Dawn—would soar and suffer with the Rangers as though they all were battle-joined at Armageddon.
Eddy spent more time leaping off the couch than sitting on it—"I tried to be a little more dignified," Lillian says—while the kids sprawled and pounded on the floor. "It was loud and exciting," Lillian says, "with the kids clapping and slapping each other on the back."
Pam's upbringing in that boisterous, outgoing household certainly affected how she now views hockey and helped create the charming paradox that she has become. The 33-year-old Roberts was recently made a deputy copy chief, a promotion she richly deserved after serving six years as an able and conscientious SI copy editor.
She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism/creative writing from Bernard Baruch College, is pursuing a master's in elementary education from Hunter College and is well versed in subjects ranging from child psychology to English grammar to politics. And to those who have known her, she is an unfailingly gentle, self-effacing woman with an easy laugh and a shy reserve. Very civilized, you know, and tasteful to a fault in manner and dress.
All of which is why SI copy chief Gabe Miller says he is endlessly fascinated every time he sees her staring at an office TV as if it were the old Admiral in Astoria. "It's hysterical to watch her watch a hockey game," says Miller. "Here is this intelligent woman, the perfect deputy, very poised and well organized, always thinking ahead, and here she is—talking to the TV! Yelling at the refs, at the players, just as if she were there."
Obviously, Roberts loves hockey. "It's an exciting game because of the speed, the end-to-end action and the hitting," she says. "I like the crunching and the slamming into the boards." Especially at this time of year and especially now, this spring, with her beloved Rangers battling it out in the Eastern Conference championship series, one step away from the Stanley Cup finals. Like slaves to the Boston Red Sox, Ranger fans have an intimate relationship with human suffering. The New York Rangers won their last Stanley Cup in 1940 and have made it to the finals only three times since—most recently in 1979—and to hear Roberts evoking memories of Ranger history is like hearing someone reminisce about visits to the dentist. Ouch, the words!
Uh-oh. Stand back, folks. Pam is turning on the TV.
For Roberts the Rangers are a lifelong passion.