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Wilcox coach Wade Robinson set for the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame

Legendary Coach Wade Robinson’s Impact Touched all in Wilcox County

By BILL PLOTT | AHSAA
MONTGOMERY – Wade “Sweet Talk” Robinson was more than just a resident of the city of Camden. He was a “pillar of the community.”

He graduated from Wilcox County Training School in 1965. The outstanding high school athlete then attended Daniel Payne College in Birmingham, graduating in 1970. He also earned at master’s degree in education supervision from the University of Alabama-Birmingham. 

Now deceased, Robinson returned home to Wilcox County and his alma mater in 1970 and began his teaching and coaching career with the same tenacity and dedication he displayed as a player.

Robinson, who is being inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as an “old timer,” carried two teams to the state basketball tournament, both of which made it to the state championship game. His 1985 team, led by state tournament Most Valuable Player Marvin Dukes, won the Class 4A state championship at Bill Harris Arena, defeating local favorite Jones Valley, 77-74 in the finals. Also named to the All-Tournament team were teammates Keith Smiley and Billy Mitchell.

Robinson is one of 12 coaches and administrators being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony and banquet will be March 21 at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center at 6 p.m. His daughter Lashandra Robinson-Gardiner will accept the HOF award on behalf of her father and the Robinson family.

In 1989, Wilcox was Class 3A runner-up to Lafayette, losing the championship game 84-74 in Tuscaloosa. Two of his players, Bennie Johnson and Lynester McDaniel, were named to the All-Tournament team. Robinson completed his coaching career with a 479-90 record.

Mark Dukes, now head basketball coach at Clarke County High School, played for Robinson.

“I met Coach Robinson in middle school in the sixth grade as a basketball player,” said Dukes. “From the very beginning he has proven to be a pillar of the community and a role model, not only for me, but also for all of the youth of Wilcox County. I played for Coach Robinson in both basketball and baseball for four years. I knew early in life, specifically my teenage years of high school, that I wanted to be an educator and coach. My inspiration and aspiration to be an educator was a direct result of the teaching and parenting that he displayed to his players and students.”

Dukes also pointed out, “Coach Robinson not only coached high school sports but also organized sports recreation throughout the communities of Wilcox County. Coach Robinson has helped numerous players secure athletic scholarships during his coaching career.”

Robinson left his mark in the local community as well as on the basketball court.

Vera L. Huff-Bryant, was a student and later secretary at Wilcox County High School during Robinson’s tenure.

“Coach Robinson put his trust in his players and students just like he would his own children. Coach Robinson was a man of dignity, honesty, trustworthiness, dependability and perseverance. He taught me science and also helped me in other areas of studying. Not only did he mentor me but also he did it for all of the students in his classes. He bought us lunches when we needed it.

“He used his own trucks and SUVs to get his players and home safely at night after games that were played out of town. He would visit his players’ homes in order to develop a relationship with their parents so they would be aware of any kind of problems going on with their children.”

She said Coach Robinson went the extra mile in order to meet the needs of the students and their families – even helping parents and student-athletes find jobs in the county during his tenure at Wilcox County High School and Wilcox Central High School.

Involved in the community outside the school, Robinson also owned a general store and farm. He was very active in church activities and worked year-round to provide activities for youth in the Camden area and keep them on a positive track. He organized a county-wide youth baseball program for ages 6-16 throughout Wilcox County.

In 2006 he was awarded a Certificate of Special Civic Service and Merit from Wilcox County. It read: “In recognition of your willingness to step out front like a good drum major to lead or support good civic projects and just causes in Wilcox County.”