Coach Tom Robinson
Tom Robinson is Chelan’s new girls basketball coach
Tom Robinson named Lady Goats basketball coach
By Richard Uhlhorn
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." That’s Tom Robinson’s quote on the Chelan High School staff profile page. Tom was recently hired to take over the Lady Goats Varsity Basketball Team after Dane Lewman resigned his position.
Robinson is in his first year of teaching at Chelan High School and currently teaches algebra and web design along with taking over the job of producing this year’s annual and its subsequent publication.
He was selected to be the Lady Goats next coach out of three quality applicants including assistant coach Tanya Greenfield and Frank Phelps. Robinson comes from a rich basketball career beginning with his high school team in Kent, Washington.
After he graduated from Kentridge High School in 1986, he attended the University of Washington on an academic scholarship. “I felt I was good enough to play at that level, so I walked on,” Robinson told me during an interview. He subsequently earned a spot on the Huskies starting line-up. “I got to play with and against some really good players, but I realized that it (college ball) was the highest (level) I was going to reach. It was a whole different level of play than high school.”
Robinson attributes his success in the fact that his high school coach “saw in me what I couldn’t see myself.” A part of his current coaching philosophy is to bring out the best in my players.
After college, Robinson went back to Kentridge High School to teach and while there, he coached the boys’ varsity team for seven years. “I quit because I couldn’t be the kind of coach and the kind of dad I wanted to be at the same time. 4A basketball is a year round job.” At the time, his children, Matt and Megan were four and two years old.
He did, however, take on coaching the Kentridge girls JV team and fell in love with the nature of coaching girls’ basketball. “It is not the same challenge to coach boys that it is to coach girls. You teach girls the fundamentals and they just go out and do it. You don’t have to correct bad habits with girls like you do boys.” He ended up leaving the coaching position at Kentridge because he didn’t want to compromise his value system. “It was either compromise my values or step away,” he said.
He looks at the Chelan position as an interesting opportunity. “The structure is in place. I’m grateful to Dane (Lewman) for leaving a strong program of achievement on and off the floor. It will be exciting for me to continue the high Chelan tradition.
Robinson is excited about the community, the parents and the way they rally around the kids. “The exciting thing for me is that I’m not coming in as one of those guys… I’ve got a clean slate,” he said.
Chelan’s girls’ basketball’s winning tradition can be traced back 14 years ago when Steve Stamps stepped in as head coach. Since Stamps tenure, the girls’ team has continued its dominance in North Central Washington under Coaches Mike Haerling, Jeff Eller and Dane Lewman.
“I’ve asked a lot of questions and listened to parent concerns and needs. I think I have an opportunity to do something really special,” said Robinson.
His playing philosophy begins and ends with defense. “Defense will dictate our offense,” he stated. “We don’t have great size, but the girls are pretty athletic. We will run when we get the chance.” Robinson will have multiple sets and option out of those sets to create an easy offense.
“I’ve been really frank with the girls. I’ve told them that you don’t have to be a big scorer to be on my team. I get more excited by great a defense,” said Robinson. “I think it is helpful for them to know that they don’t have to try to be somebody they are not. I’m looking for versatility.”
Robinson will begin next year’s season with gym workouts in the near future. “I will be developing a philosophy on and off the court throughout the summer.” The team will participate in a four day Team Camp at Gonzaga and Chelan will be hosting a basketball tournament this summer. Tanya Greenfield will continue as his assistant coach.
It’s going to be a busy summer for Robinson and his family. He will be taking the Monmouth University Hawks (New Jersey) on a trip to Italy this summer where his family has family. “Lisa’s grandparents live there and we’ve been tour guides for four years now.” They will also be accompanying their daughter Megan and the U-12 volleyball team to Dallas, Texas this June. “I guess it’s going to be a busy summer.”
Tom Robinson will bring new excitement to the girls’ basketball program. He’s excited about the opportunity and parted with the hope that he can build as much interest in watching the girls play the game as the interest in the boys’ team. With his enthusiasm, that probably won’t be that difficult.