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Men's Basketball

 

Faulkner State's Jack Robertson reaches another coaching milestone with recent victory

By Tommy Hicks | thicks@al.com AL.com
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on February 10, 2014 at 12:27 PM, updated February 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

 

Robertson's son Robby, head coach at Fairhope High School, had informed his mother the game could be something special. And it was.

The Sun Chiefs picked up their 14th win of the season against Enterprise in an 89-73 win. The victory was the 800th of Robertson's career - he's in his 41st season as the head coach - at FSCC.

"When I look back, first of all, my parents didn't want me to go into coaching,'' Robertson said in an interview with the Alabama Media Group Monday morning. "But I knew since I was a little kid that athletics was a big part of what I wanted to do, one way or another. And I even started coaching a Babe Ruth team the summer after I graduated from high school. I just kind of liked it.

"But I never thought that I would stay anywhere 40-something years. Here's how (the 800th win) makes me feel - there's been a bunch of very good players who have come through this program,'' Robertson said. "There's only been two presidents here at Faulkner since 1965 when it was founded and there's only been two baseball coaches and three basketball coaches, so it's a great place to work. It just makes me proud to be a part of it.

"Every time that something happened where I'd think about making a move, I'd go to sleep and wake up the next morning and say, 'Naw, that's not the thing to do.' It just makes me proud to work here and be a part of all this. Anybody could have done this, I just happened to be fortunate enough to get the job a long time ago and be fortunate enough to stay with it.''

Robertson's record at Faulkner, where he also serves as the school's athletic director, is now 800-431. He has led the Sun Chiefs to two state championships and 13 division crowns. This year's team, comprised mostly of freshmen, have posted a 14-6 record and they are tied for the lead in divisional play. They have five home games remaining this season, including tonight at 7 p.m. against L.B. Wallace Community College.

"I really hadn't thought much about (the milestone) but I had a feeling something was up when my wife got on the bus to go to Enterprise with us,'' Robertson said. "Then I realized that was probably what she was there for. I didn't think about it any during the game and after the game I had a couple of former players there and they came up, so them it hit me.

"I'm just proud to be here. ... It's more a longevity thing than anything else. And I think it's a compliment to Faulkner State that people stay here so long. There's not turnover here, from faculty to whatever. It's a compliment to our college and to Dr. (Gary) Branch, the president now who has been here for 30-something years. ... It's a compliment to all of it. And I enjoy it. I still enjoy it. I enjoy coming to work every day.''

Asked if there was a game during his tenure that stands out, Robertson quickly came up with a fond memory.

"In 1978 I had only been the coach for four years and we won the state championship,'' he said. "And I remember sitting in the dressing room thinking, oh my gosh we've got to go play in the national tournament. It kind of hit me all of a sudden that here I was just four of five years into my college career and we were headed to the national tournament.

"We played Texas Western Junior College which was coached by (former Arkansas head coach) Nolan Richardson at the time. We get out to Hutchinson (Kan.) for the national tournament and there's all the big names. I remember walking out to play a Kansas team in the first round - we played Nolan's team in the second round - and walking through Digger Phelps was standing there and he slapped me on the back and said 'Good luck.' I thought, oh my gosh, what's going on? That team was fun. In 1991 we won the state championship and finished sixth in the national and we were one player away from winning it all.''

Robertson is No. 4 in victories among active coaches in the National Junior College Athletic Association and he's 10th all-time in wins on the NJCAA list. A graduate of Baldwin County High School and Marion Military Institute. He received his bachelor's degree from South Alabama and a master's from Troy University.

He started his coaching career at Robertsdale High and Escambia County High in Pensacola before accepting the job at FSCC. Robertson was named to the Baldwin County High School Hall of Fame in 1997, the same year he was inducted into the NJCAA Region 22 Hall of Fame. In 2010 he was named to the NJCAA basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

"We've had a lot of good teams that are my favorites,'' Robertson said. "They're all my favorites. I haven't had a team in 41 years that I just despised. There were some teams that didn't play up to their capabilities, but they have always been guys that I enjoyed seeing and I enjoy seeing them when they come back.''