A DEFINITE ‘HONOR’Published 12:02am Thursday, December 19, 2013
Elba boys coach Karl Bledsoe played for Robertson
Karl Bledsoe considers it an honor to be able to coach against long-time Andalusia coach Richard Robertson.
Bledsoe, an Andalusia native who played under Robertson from 1979-1981, is the head boys basketball coach at Elba High School, and said when he started coaching against the Bulldogs’ coach, it was a little “intimidating.”
“Now, I just look at it as an honor, and just always look forward to being able to play Coach Robertson,” he said. “He’s beaten me a number of times, and I’ve actually been able to beat him a few times. It’s never about (who wins the most games).
“I want my team to play well, and if it happens to be Andalusia, then we still look at it as part of our job,” he said. “Then, when it’s all said and done, I know how much winning is important to him (Robertson). I always want him to be successful, also.”
Bledsoe and Elba (7-0) will have another chance to play AHS again this season as the Bulldogs tip off their 47th annual invitational tournament this afternoon. The Tigers start the three-day tournament against Opp today at 4:30 p.m., and are guaranteed three games.
If Elba beats the Bobcats and AHS defeats Red Level in the first round, then Bledsoe will face his former coach for the second time this season. Elba won the first meeting 50-36 on Nov. 26.
Back when Bledsoe was a player for AHS, he said Robertson got the most out of all of his players. The Elba coach played sparingly off the bench at forward.
“He was real demanding,” Bledsoe said about Robertson. “Like he is now. He expected a lot. He got the most out of us. We had some average talent, but he was able to get the best out of us.
“We probably ended up both my junior and senior years beating teams that were more talented,” he said. “He (Robertson) always had a system that he runs. That system has been proven, and that’s what helped us beat some of those more talented teams.”
During Bledsoe’s junior and senior seasons, the Bulldogs went to the state tournament.
“We were pretty good when (Bledsoe) was here,” Robertson said. “He’s a good guy.”
Bledsoe said most of the team’s success during his playing days came as a result of having good players around him, such as former Bulldogs Louis Bernett, Russell Thomas, Alfagus Smith, Arthur Pitts, Larry Henderson, Steven Smith, Steve Posey, Dallas Taylor and Alton Turner, to name a few.
“I really didn’t play a whole lot, but learned some valuable life lessons,” Bledsoe said. “Coach Robertson, he not only taught basketball, but he taught us how to be men and how to do the right things. He always said, whatever you do, do right.
“Some of the same philosophy he has, that’s what I use not only on the court, but also I tell my players the same thing,” he said.
When it comes to basketball, the EHS coach said he drives his players to work hard every day at practice and follow the “system.”
“Always play as a team,” Bledsoe added. “We always said that we’ll have oneness, and if you do the things that are asked of you and follow the system, then winning will take care of itself.”
That system helped get the Tigers to the Final Four last season.
Bledsoe has taken all of what he’s learned from Robertson and applied it during coaching stints at Greenville and Geneva before coming to Elba.
Today marks Elba’s fifth straight appearance in the invitational tournament.
“It’s always an honor to be able to play in the Andalusia Invitational, and to come back home and play in one of the longest-running tournaments in the state of Alabama,” Bledsoe said.