Robinson earns state coaching honor

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 26, 2004

[2/26/04]This season was one Dellie Robinson would probably like to forget. The one before it is proving to be quite memorable.

A year after leading Vicksburg High to its first state championship since 1980, Robinson was honored as Mississippi’s boys basketball coach of the year as selected by the National Federation of High Schools.

The coach of the year award is given by the NFHS to coaches in 10 boys and girls sports in each state. Selection criteria includes success in that given year, as well as their track record, philosophy, and community involvement. Regional and national coaches of the year are also picked, although Robinson did not receive either of those honors.

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“He won the state championship, he’s got good character and a good record, and all of those are taken into consideration,” said Mississippi High School Activities Association executive director Dr. Ennis Proctor, a member of the selection committee for the award. “It is a fine award, and we’re proud for Dellie.”

Robinson, who led his team to a 30-8 record last season, deflected the credit to his players.

“I think it’s a tremendous honor to be selected among your peers. It’s a super honor for any coach that’s coaching high school sports,” Robinson said. “I can’t take any credit for it. It goes to the seniors and those guys on the 5A state championship team. All the credit goes to those guys.”

Over the years, Robinson has earned plenty of credit himself. He has a career record of 419-301, and led VHS to four straight 20-win seasons between 1999 and 2003. The run was capped by the state championship, which itself finished off a remarkable season.

The Gators were barely noticed for much of the year, and weren’t ranked in any preseason polls. It wasn’t until the final poll that they broke in. Even then, VHS was only ranked third behind Lanier and top-ranked Provine, a team VHS beat twice during the regular season.

Given the unassuming style of the team, the way Robinson found out about the award was fitting.

He had received the letter from the NFHS informing him of the honor, but didn’t read it and left it on his desk. Then, one morning, VHS principal Charlie Tolliver included it in the morning announcements over the school intercom, taking Robinson by surprise.

“The first time I heard about it was when Mr. Tolliver announced it over the intercom,” Robinson said. “I had to go find the letter.”

Robinson was happy to win the award, but would have been happier with another gold basketball. The Gators, who lost four-of-five starters from the championship team, slipped to 13-16 this season and lost in the first round of the Division 6-5A Tournament to Warren Central.

“It’s always great to win an honor, but certainly my goal is not to win a national honor. My goal is to win basketball games and championships. Anything short of that goal is a disappointment for me,” Robinson said. “The award would have meant a lot more if we were standing here today as district champions.”