Dennis and Roberta Licklider named to Hall

It’s not very often a husband and wife get to coach alongside each other.

It’s even more rare to do so while having an unparalleled level of success spanning decades.

Meet the Lickliders.

Longtime Jefferson City High School track and field coaches Roberta and Dennis Licklider were inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Sunday night at the Capitol Plaza Hotel.

On the track since 1977 and married since 1984, the two will go into the Hall of Fame together.

“It was unique that we got to spend a lot of time together,” Roberta said. “Then when we got married and had children, we could spend a lot of time doing the same thing. We loved it, they loved it. They didn’t get too tired of us as the time went on.”

Roberta and Dennis met when they were teachers and coaches at Jefferson City High School, and they went on to form one of the most dominant track and field programs in the state.

The Jays won nine state titles during Dennis’ 24 seasons as head coach. That included more than 700 state qualifiers and 54 individual state champions.

Roberta, who also was the head volleyball coach for 11 years, spent 32 years as an assistant track coach. The Lady Jays still hold the all-time record for most athletes qualified for the state meet.

But to them, the success the Jays and Lady Jays reached on the track was secondary to what they achieved off the track.

“They will fight you tooth and nail on the discipline, but in the end that’s what they want,” Roberta said. “Because as kids come back that maybe we’ve had trouble with, they come back and they will say, ‘Thanks for the discipline,’ not, ‘Thanks for making me a state champion or thanks for putting me on that relay.’ It’s always thanks for the discipline and I needed that and that helps me now in what we do.”

Today, Dennis and Roberta are active in track and field events in Jefferson City and central Missouri. Dennis helped found a company that electronically times track meets.

“We’re just kind of piddling in retirement and trying to stay busy,” Dennis said. “We like being out around the coaches and around the kids and watching them compete, so we aren’t entirely removed from them.”

This isn’t the first honor for the Lickliders. Earlier this year, the entire track and field program at Jefferson City High School was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. The track at Jefferson City High School has born their name since 2009 when the two retired.

Through it all the duo made it work together on and off the track. Minus what Roberta called a few philosophical discussions.

“He yelled at me a lot because I wouldn’t pay attention,” Roberta said.

Joked Dennis: “She interrupted a lot.”

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