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Weekend events honor Robertson [with gallery of former players]

Longtime Andalusia High School basketball coach Richard Robertson was honored for his dedication and longevity as a coach by the Alabama High School Athletic Association Friday night. Shown is AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese embracing Robertson; Dr. Daniel Shakespeare, Andalusia Board of Education member David Bryant; and Robertson’s granddaughter.

Longtime Andalusia High School basketball coach Richard Robertson was honored for his dedication and longevity as a coach by the Alabama High School Athletic Association Friday night. Shown is AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese embracing Robertson; Dr. Daniel Shakespeare, Andalusia Board of Education member David Bryant; and Robertson’s granddaughter.

Coach Richard Robertson told a gym full of former students and players, fellow coaches, family members and friends Saturday that when he went to Alabama State University as an athlete, it wasn’t because he was good.

“I am standing up today, but I’m not the best one. John Henry and I were on same team,” he said, referring to his cousin. “They wanted him, but he kept coming home. They said, ‘If you take Richard with him, he might stay.’

“I’m the least. All I did was persevere,” he joked. “Two years after I got there, they were still asking about John.”

That may be Coach Rob’s story, but there were plenty of folks attending his retirement celebration Saturday afternoon who could attest that he did much more than persevere in his 50 years as a teacher and coach.

“There are so many who came through here who are successful in life because of the things he taught them,” his neighbor, Sammy Glover, said. “ His involvement with young men went beyond the basketball court. He helped make them productive young men.”

Mayor Earl Johnson said, “I travel all over this state and meet a lot if people. Invariably, someone will say, ‘How is Coach doing?’ And I know exactly who they’re talking about. He has been one of our greatest ambassadors.”

Speakers included fellow Dawn Thompson, Wayne Sasser, Dwight Mikel, Comer Daniels, Darryl Thomas, and Willie Locke. Coach Rob’s most famous player, Robert Horry, sent a video. And groups of former players and cheerleaders from each decade since the 1960s posed for pictures. (See andalusiastarnews.com.)

A member of Robertson’s state championship team from 1996 recalled the win.

“We had just won the only state championship in the history of the school,” he said. “I said, ‘Coach. You got the state championship. You gonna retire now?’

“He said, ‘Son. I’ve got 20 more years of lives to save.’ ”

Coach Marshall Locke, who’ll Coach’s Robertson’s place as Bulldog basketball coach this season, said taking the helm is a bit like getting your father’s antique car.

“Coach, I promise I’ll take care of it and nurse it,” he said.

Robertson said he was amazed at the event his daughters organized.

“I didn’t orchestrate a thing,” he said. “I’m amazed at where they’ve come from and how they got the message.”

Robertson retired in August after 50 years in the city school system.