Photo: Longtime Hokes Bluff High School educator and coach Mike Robertson was a member of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 that was inducted on March 13 in Montgomery. Pictured, sitting, from left: Robertson, Paul Benefield, Trent Taylor, William Earl Griffin, Charles McCaleb, Homer Davis. Standing, rom left: John Woody, Steve Giddens, David Powell, Ronald Jackson, Angelo Jones (son of inductee Matthew Jones), Jack Steele, Jr., Tim Miller. (Marvin Gentry/AHSAA)
Courtesy of AHSAA
Mike Robertson’s legacy received a significant boost on March 13.
The longtime Hokes Bluff High School educator and coach was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame in Montgomery.
“I’m very appreciative,” said Robertson in an earlier interview with The Messenger. “It means you’ve been around for a long time, which I guess is good in one way. We’ve had our ups and downs the last few years and had some good runs before that. [The award] gives Hokes Bluff a little limelight. Anybody that’s ever lived out here knows that we’ve got a good community. I’ve always had great support along with great assistant coaches. But more importantly, I’ve had great support from my family and my players.”
Robertson graduated as class valedictorian in 1977 from Hokes Bluff, where he earned All-Etowah County honors in football, basketball and baseball. He was the quarterback on a state champion and state runner-up football team and played on three state championship baseball teams. His No. 2 jersey was retired by the school in 1977.
Robertson attended Gadsden State Community College on a baseball scholarship and graduated from Athens State in 1981 with a degree in mathematics. He holds a a master’s degree from the University of Alabama and an EDS degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee. Robertson began his teaching and coaching career in 1981 as an assistant coach at Southside and returned to his alma mater in 1984.
Robertson began as Hokes Bluff head football coach in 1996. In 26 years, he has compiled a record of 170-121 with 15 state playoff appearances. His 2001 team won the Class 3A state championship. That team won a school-record 13 games, and Robertson was named 3A Coach of the Year. Two of Robertson’s teams made it to the state semifinals and two qualified for the quarterfinals. Robertson has had 45 players named to various ASWA All-State teams. The school’s football field was named in his honor in 2019
Robertson coached girls’ basketball at Hokes Bluff from 1986-2008, winning seven area championships and advancing six teams to the state semifinals.
Robertson took over as head baseball coach in 2011. In 12 years, his teams won seven area championships, with two making the semifinals and one the state championship series.
Robertson was inducted into the Etowah County Hall of Fame in 2016.
“Coach Rob has a big heart for his community and his alma mater,” said City of Hokes Bluff Mayor Scott Reeves. “It is evidenced by his commitment and dedication to Hokes Bluff High School. His devotion to our community has impacted the lives of many student-athletes, not only coaching them to be competitors on the field and courts but also how to be successful students in the classroom. He has taught young men and women how to win in life and be responsible citizens to their communities.”
Reeves said Robertson’s example has been on display on a daily basis.
“Coach Rob’s demonstration of hard work, perseverance, loyalty, integrity, dedication and commitment to his students in the classroom, his players, his assistant coaches, his peers and the community of Hokes Bluff speak volumes for the man he truly is. Throughout his career, he’s always encourages our kids to celebrate the wins and learn from the defeats, because life will throw both of those things at you.”
Hokes Bluff Principal Scott Calhoun was one of Coach Robertson’s players and has witnessed the man’s impact from all sides of the spectrum.
“As a young male student athlete in high school, I always looked up to my coaches,” said Calhoun. “I was fortunate that one of my coaches was Mike Robertson. Coach Rob taught me some valuable lessons as a teenager that I still carry with me almost 40 years later. He was someone that I looked up to with great respect as a young man, but my respect and admiration for him have only increased as I have become an adult.
“In my educational career, I have been fortunate enough to have worked at six different high schools. All the schools have been great, and I have worked with some really good football coaches and athletic directors. None of them have come close to Coach Rob. He has been, and still is, an excellent role model for all our young men. He instills a great work ethic, sense of pride and a never-quit attitude in all of the students he coaches. He still coaches with the same fire, grit and determination that he always has.”
Calhoun noted that many of Robertson’s former players have chosen to become coaches because of him.
“Coach Rob’s influence on those around him is strong. He is the best at what he does and has truly found his calling in life. So many young people, male and female, have benefitted from playing for him. His influence reaches far beyond Hokes Bluff.”
Joining Robertson in the Class of 2023 were football coaches Paul Benefield, David Powell and Trent Taylor; basketball coaches Homer Davis and Ronald Jackson; Tim Miller; Jack Steele Jr.; John Woody and administrators Steve Giddens and Charles McCaleb. Selected in the Old-Timers’ Division were baseball and football coach William “Earl” Griffin and basketball coach Matthew L. Jones.
Sponsors of the Hall of Fame program were the AHSAA and the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA). Corporate partners included Alabama Power, ALFA, Coca-Cola, Encore Rehabilitation, Jack’s, Future 1s, TeamIP and Wilson Sporting Goods.
Messenger Publisher/Editor Chris McCarthy contributed to this article.