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Robinson recognized as founder of state coaches’ association

A Washington High School graduate, longtime Williamston High School football coach and member of the East Carolina football staff, Harold Robinson Jr. was honored for being one of the founding members of the North Carolina Football Coaches Association at the Winter Football Clinic on Jan. 18.

Robinson, along with a few others, was trying to figure out a way for the football coaches’ voices to be heard by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association regarding rule changes back in the late 1980’s.

The NCFCA began in 1990, and a clinic has been held every year since then. The clinics started out at Page High School in Greensboro between six and eight coaches, including Robinson.

“We had college coaches come in, the Shriners fed us a barbecue lunch because we had all coached in the Shrine Bowl game,” Robinson said. “The year I was the president, there were six of us (coaches). There was Ken Browning, Marion Kirby from Page High School, Mike Carter from Mooresville, Allen Brown from Thomasville and Bruce Hardin from Kannapolis along with myself. All of these guys were legends.”

Browning was the president for the first three years of the association, and Robinson was president from 1994 to 1995.

The clinics are now held at the Greensboro Marriott hotel, and Robinson said they have grown from hosting 100-200 coaches to 600, as of this past year.

“This year, they wanted to recognize the first six of us that were president and got us moving along with Doug (Henderson’s) help. … They presented us with these wrapped game balls,” Robinson said, holding his football listing the years of his presidency. “For a retired guy, to see something that you helped start, to know there are now 600 coaches attending, with (money) in the bank, and they’re giving scholarships, it was special to all of us.”

Henderson was the first executive secretary of the NCFCA from 1988 to 2002. He passed away in February of 2018.

Dave Gentry and Bob Lewis were also among those awarded for their service to the association. Gentry, is the winningest coach in North Carolina High School football history at Murphy High School. He won his 413th game last October to break Jack Holley’s record of 412 wins.

Robinson hadn’t attended the clinic in three years. When he was invited to the clinic, he was told that he and the other founders would receive some sort of memorabilia, but Robinson didn’t know what to expect.

“I went to lunch with some of these guys, and I asked, ‘Can you believe how big this thing has grown?’ I mean, it has had a big impact on the city of Greensboro,” Robinson said. “Now, they’re having a Friday night session, an all-day Saturday session, bringing collegiate coaches in to speak and there’s vendors all around. This year, at the business session, they decided that the guys that helped start it needed to be remembered.”

Mack Brown, the head football coach of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tar Heels, was among the speakers at this year’s event.

Robinson said he was honored to have been recognized at this year’s clinic and looks forward to returning to Greensboro for it again next year.