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Men's Basketball

 

Faulkner State basketball legend Jack Robertson stepping down after 43 years, 855 wins

Faulkner State basketball legend Jack Robertson stepping down after 43 years, 855 wins

By Ben Thomas | bthomas@al.com AL.com

Jack Robertson spent most of his adult life coaching basketball at Faulkner State Community College.

After 43 years on the job, he has decided it is time to enjoy some other parts of life a little bit.

Robertson is retiring as Faulkner State's athletic director and men's basketball coach. His last day on the job will be Friday.

"I turned 70 in February," he told AL.com. "I want to do some other things while I'm still mentally and physically able. This was a tough decision, an emotional decision. I told somebody this week that I think I prayed about it so much, God finally said, 'Just do it, boy.' I think it's time."

Robertson, a Bay Minette native, led the Sun Chiefs to 855 wins and 449 losses in his career. His teams have won three state championships, been runner-up three more times, won 14 Southern Division Championships and played in the NJCAA National Championship Tournament three times.

"There are so many memories," Robertson said. "A few years ago, I started taking my laptop on road trips and just writing down everything that happened. I have page after page of memories. My first team (1973-74) was very important to me.

"I was only 26. There were three sophomores there at the time (Skip Johnson, David Newton and Charlie Kitchen) that probably knew the game better than I did. They hung in there with me. They did everything I asked them to do. We played the UAB freshmen in our first game. I was so nervous I almost wet my pants, but we wound up winning."

Robertson said this year's freshmen-laden team also was special. He thought about retiring following a state championship and a trip to the national tournament a year ago. However, that team was sophomore heavy, and he always had promised himself not to leave the cupboard bare for the next coach.

The 2015-2016 team – with local freshmen like Deion Dozier (McGill-Toolen), Rodney Gill (Theodore), C.J. Yelding (Daphne) and Ben Robinette (McGill-Toolen) – finished 21-8 and reached the state tournament.

"I will remember my last team very fondly," he said. "We had a bunch of freshmen who came in and worked really hard. To win more than 20 games with so many freshmen was very special. You wouldn't want to end your career on a team that was 5-25 or something like that."

Robertson's best season came in 1991 when the Sun Chiefs – led by highly recruited Leonard White -- won 32 games, claimed the state title and finished sixth in the nation. Robertson already has been inducted into the Baldwin County High Hall of Fame, the NJCAA Region 22 Hall of Fame and NJCAA Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.

He had opportunities to leave Faulkner State over the years but could never pull the trigger on moving away from Bay Minette.

"It is just such a good place," Robertson said of FSCC. "Every time, I had a chance to move on, I just couldn't do it. Since 1965, we've only had two presidents and three basketball coaches. It's a great place to work. My family was here. My children went to school here. When I really thought about it, there was just no good reason to go anywhere else."

Robertson and wife Patsy have three children – Robby, Melanee and Renee – and six grandchildren. Robertson said he planned to remove himself from the search for a new coach and let president Gary Branch make that decision.

He said he would likely still attend some Sun Chief games but didn't want to get in the way of the next coach either.

"I'll miss it," he said. "I'll miss the camaraderie and the coaching, but I look forward to whatever is next."

Faulkner State captured the 2015 ACCC Men's Basketball Championship