Robinson gets coveted coaching job at WC

Published 11:25 am Friday, March 30, 2012

Ten years ago, Bruce Robinson applied to become Warren Central’s boys basketball coach. He was turned down, largely because he didn’t have experience as a head coach.

So Robinson spent the next decade gaining the necessary experience with stops at Madison Central, Clinton and Greenville-Weston. When the Warren Central job came open last year, however, he didn’t want to succeed one of his good friends in the business and passed.

When the job opened up a third time, Robinson knew he couldn’t let it slip away again. He went after it and got it.

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Robinson was named Warren Central’s coach at the monthly meeting of the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees on Thursday night.

In executive session, Robinson’s hire was approved by a unanimous 4-0 vote of the five-member board. District 4 trustee Joe Loviza left the meeting early for personal reasons and did not vote.

“I always thought Warren Central would be a good fit, and it’s been one job I wanted,” Robinson said. “I wanted it 10 years ago, but I didn’t have the experience. Then when it opened last year, I’m good friends with (former WC coach) Jesse Johnson. I didn’t want to come in on his heels. If I didn’t come in now, it might not come open again. They might get somebody who’s going to be there for the next 10 years.”

Robinson has a 184-134 record in 10 seasons at Madison Central, Clinton and Greenville-Weston. The bulk of his career as a head coach was spent at Clinton, where he was 148-112 from 2002-11.

He also was an assistant for 10 years at Yazoo City, from 1991-2001.

Robinson’s Greenville team went 21-6 last season, but lost to Vicksburg in the first round of the Division 3-6A Tournament.

Robinson said he decided to leave Greenville not just because of his desire to coach at Warren Central, but also because of financial and family considerations.

“We still have a house down in Clinton. It’s mainly a family thing, and a business decision. It’s tough having to run two households,” said Robinson, who graduated from Clinton High in 1984.

Robinson will be Warren Central’s third coach in as many seasons. Johnson was fired after the 2009-10 season, and his successor Chareck Cable lasted only one year.

Cable was dismissed following a season in which he was suspended for five games and the Vikings were banned from postseason play for practicing ahead of the MHSAA’s mandated starting date.

Two other coaches, Lanier’s Thomas Billups and New Hope’s Robert Byrd, also declined when the job was offered last summer. Cable wasn’t hired until late July, just a couple weeks before school started and well after the summer season was over.

Vicksburg Warren School District superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford said getting an experienced coach like Robinson on board before the end of the school year will bring some needed stability to the program.

“I think it’ll be very beneficial. The parents will have a chance to meet him and talk to him,” Swinford said. “He’s going to have to heal some of those feelings and bring back hope.”

Neither Swinford nor Robinson were sure when the coach will be able to start work at Warren Central. He does plan to have a full summer schedule with the Vikings and lay the groundwork for what he hopes will be a successful first season.

WC went 10-14 under Cable in 2011-12. Leading scorer Kourey Davis and several talented underclassmen will be back next season.

“We want to get out of the district. If we can get out of the district, that’s going to give us a good foundation,” Robinson said.

The Vikings haven’t made it past the first round of the division tournament since 2005. Despite some winning seasons over the years, they’re also not among Mississippi’s traditional basketball powers. WC lost in the 1974 Class AA championship game and hasn’t been back to the state tournament since.

Rather than being turned off by the lack of tradition, Robinson embraced it. He said it’s a chance for he and his new players to build from the ground up.

“You can always build there,” he said. “Clinton and Greenville, there’s been success. There’s only so much you can do at those places. At Warren Central it’s almost like breaking new ground and being a pioneer.”