Building on a solid foundation

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

For 25-years plus, I was fortunate to be a high school athletics director at Williamston High School. This in itself was a learning experience besides being the football coach. I will never forget what one gentleman told me about building a program.

Joe-Joe Thigpen was one of our strongest supporters and he came out to school to give me some advice that he had learned over the years. Mr. Thigpen told me, “Coach, build your minor sports programs up and the others will follow.” I thought about that for the remainder of that school year, and during a coaches retreat I told the others what he had said to me. We all agreed to give it a try.

We started building up our minor programs such as soccer, tennis, track, wrestling, golf, cross-country, volleyball and indoor track. Much to my amazement, it worked. The other programs like football, basketball, baseball and softball would carry their own weight, and they did. You are supposed to win in these programs but building the minor sports up certainly helped the moral of the coaches, players and parents. They could see that their children were being taken care of, and they started helping the major sports programs. Success took off, all because of Mr. Thigpen’s advice.

We won 11-consecutive Wachovia Cups in a row all because of the minor programs. We even got our field-goal kicker from our soccer program, and it helped us tremendously win some football games. Like I mentioned above, the major programs were built to win, and they did, and it happened more and more. This advice was needed because Mr. Thigpen was an avid wrestling fan, and his children had graduated, so he had no children involved. This was a citizen who just had the best interest of the kids at stake, and I always appreciated his advice.

Our minor sports are every bit as important to those that play as the major programs are. Even though the major programs may pay the bills, still, the support of those in the minor programs and players’ parents are also important. Build those sports programs and the foundation of all the other programs will be on solid ground.

We are fortunate in our area that the athletic programs in our high schools are on solid foundation, and they are offering more sports than ever. Please take the time to visit one of their games this fall and see for yourself. Your support will be appreciated by those who play — join your local booster club!

I was fortunate to learn many lessons between two white lines, and I hope it made me a better person! Thanks to my coaches!


Harold Robinson Jr. is a former coach at Williamston High School for 31 years and on the East Carolina University football staff for 12 years.