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Ashford’s Robin Tyra named 2A Making a Difference Award recipient

AHSAA Class 2A Making A Difference Award Recipient

Football Coach Robin Tyra Sees Each Day as an Opportunity to Reach another Kid.

Montgomery, AL – When high school football coach Robin Tyra looks into the eyes of a struggling player at a hot August practice he smiles just a little.

Why? He says he sees a little of himself in those searching eyes. And then he says he remembers the encouragement he heard from his own high school coaches and tries to do the same.

“There is no better feeling than seeing a kid learn how to commit to something that is bigger than himself,” Tyra said. “And when a team of kids commit to the same thing, then success is not far behind.”

That philosophy is a chief reason Tyra, the head coach at Abbeville High School from 2014-2019, was selected as the AHSAA Class 2A ‘Making a Difference Award’ recipient for the 2019-20 school year.  He is one of seven individuals, one from each of the seven AHSAA classifications, that was selected for 2020.

Each honoree will be recognized at a special presentation at their respective schools. A video presentation will also be produced by the AHSAA TV Network for release later this summer.

The Making a Difference Award was established in 2011 by the AHSAA and AHSADCA to recognize individuals who go beyond their normal duties as a coach, teacher or administrator to make a positive impact in their schools and communities.

Tyra, a Marion County High School and University of North Alabama graduate, has been a teacher and football coach for two decades. At each stop he has helped programs find success. More importantly, he has found a way to mentor student-athletes to be successful in the classroom and in life. He has had head-coaching stops at Coffeeville, Aliceville and Abbeville while serving as an assistant coach, first at his alma mater in Guin, followed by stints at McKenzie and Headland.

He became the head football coach at Abbeville High School in 2014 – leading the Yellow Jackets to their first 9-win season in 11 years in 2017; the school’s first 10-win season since 1994 in 2018; and two straight trips to the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in school history (2017-18). His teams are 36-30 overall at Abbeville and 27-8 over the last three seasons.

Tyra, who accepted the head football coach position at Class 4A Ashford High School earlier this summer, says his own high school coaches put him on the right path when he was growing up in Guin and attending Marion County High School – with a little help from his mother too.

A talented four-sport standout, he remembers being ejected from a varsity game in his freshman season. That meant his removal from the team. However, the players voted to let him remain on the squad.

That’s where head coach Doug Goodwin stepped in. He reminded him that a great player must put his team and teammates first. His mother Shirley Tyra met with him and his coaches and asked her son one question. “You know the difference in right and wrong, don’t you?” she asked. “I know you do because I taught you.”

For Tyra, that was a life-changing day. “I really think that was the day I knew deep down I wanted to become a coach,” he said. “Coach Goodwin and our defensive coordinator Coach Don Jones, are the two coaches that had a significant effect in that decision,” he said. “Both gave me the talks I needed to spur me into the direction that has gotten me to this moment. Both these men had early intervention with me when I was young athlete with poor sportsmanship and a poor attitude. I’m truly appreciative of them because they arrived at a time I needed the most direction.”

He credits growing up and being involved in and loving the community of Guin as other keys to his development. He also learned to appreciate the opportunity to work for Butch Frye and Ben Hightower, two men who taught him at a young age the value of hard work and old-fashioned physical labor.

“I listened to the wisdom they offered and now appreciate it ever more and share with my own players. They impressed upon me upon me the importance of integrity, morality and just being a good man.”

Goodwin and his wife also showed him the importance of making the players feel like a family. He and his wife Laura have made that a key ingredient in their lives as well.

“Our house is just like my high school coach Doug and Donna Goodwin’s house. Players are always welcome and my wife tries to provide a home away from home. She insists they be fed and the players love everything she does for them. Unconditional love!”

He became a head coach very early in his coaching career, and has had some fond memories every step of the way, from his first days as a head coach at Coffeeville High School to his years at Abbeville.

“I had a lot to figure out in my early years at Coffeeville High in Clarke County,” he said. “The most important thing I learned at Coffeeville is that I eventually figured out who I was as a coach. Once I learned that, I got so much more out of my players because they could see (the heart) of the guy who was trying to build them.”

At every stop, he saw kids hungry to win once they saw a coach hungry to teach them. “My Abbeville kids, I will never forget them,” he said. “They bought in to our program and did whatever we asked of them on the football field and in the classroom. To see their eyes shine when they were successful, well, that was enough for me.

“The way I see it, when I get out on that field at 3 p.m. each day for practice, those next two or three hours are the best hours of my day,” he said. “A lot of other coaches probably make a lot more money than I do, but that doesn’t matter. That time with my kids … it just can’t get any better than that.”

COMING WEDNESDAY: Class 1A Making a Difference Award recipient Dr. Cathy Trimble, Francis Marion High School principal.