In October 2007, the Perry Hall Gators' varsity football team was thrust into turmoil when their head coach was dismissed from his duties by school administrators.
The team completed the season under the guidance of assistant head coach Bob Hruz, a former graduate of Perry Hall High School. The Gators lost just two games—a three point loss to Hereford in week four and a 32 point defeat at the hands of Gov. Thomas Johnson High School in the 4A North Regional Final.
At the end of the season it was clear that the program would have to move on and do so quickly. That winter, the school hired Keith Robinson to take over the program.
"When I was hired, I went in and spoke to the players and showed them my plan," Robinson said. "They realized I was there to work hard. We began structured work outs and offseason work outs. It was something they had not done before."
The players bought into Robinson's message and brand of football. In 2008, the Gators went 9-3 and avenged both of the previous year's losses by defeating Hereford 17-14 in week four and Gov. Thomas Johnson 34-0 in the 4A North Semifinals.
Robinson, who also teaches physical education, is entering his third season as Perry Hall's head varsity football coach. After missing the postseason in 2009 for the first time in many years, he has high expectations for his team in 2010.
"There's no reason why we should not return to the playoffs," Robinson said. "We have a lot of talent on this team."
Robinson has been coaching high school football for 15 years. Prior to Perry Hall, he was the head coach of Overlea High School's varsity football squad.
The most important thing to a football head coach, Robinson said, is organization, something he learned from his mentor Roger Wrenn, who has spent more than 30 years coaching at Patterson High School in Baltimore. Robinson began his coaching career at Patterson in 1995 as one of Wrenn's assistants.
"I learned a lot from coach Wrenn," Robinson said. "He used to tell us that not only is he coaching the team, but he was coaching us [assistants] and preparing us to one day become head coaches. I don't think I fully realized how much I learned from him until I left and went out on my own to Overlea as a head coach."
Growing up, sports were a big part of Robinson's childhood. He began playing football at the age of 7 and knew at a young age that he wanted to be a coach.
Robinson is married with two children—a 5-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. And while he loves coaching, he admits that balancing his home life with football is sometimes overwhelming.
"I'll be honest, it gets tougher each year as my kids get old enough to start doing things that I am going to want to be a part of," Robinson said. "My kids are still young…they're starting to play recreation sports now and there's going to come a point where I'm probably going to have to step aside for a few years. When they get to high school I'm certainly going to want to see them play."
The time to step away from coaching has not yet arrived for Robinson. For now, he has the playoffs to worry about.