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HEBRON ESTATES - After spending most of the previous 27 years at North Bullitt, the last two serving as the athletic director, Bill Robinette will step down this week with a better appreciation for the person behind the desk than he had as a coach on the other side of the desk.
Robinette has been the head baseball coach as well as leading the girls’ basketball program at the school during his long tenure. He also was an assistant football coach, a job he maintained even while working as the school’s athletic director.
Robinette has seen the local sports scene from all the angles and he now has a greater appreciation for the AD’s that preceded him.
“There is a lot more paperwork involved than I thought there was,” Robinette said with a smile as he sat in his classroom last week before stepping away from that duty also. “That is time consuming, but I really enjoyed it. It gives you a different perspective on things.”
Robinette took over for long time North Bullitt AD Rob Williams, the last school administrator to hold that post in the county. Williams was an assistant principal with duties over the athletic department. Over the last several years, the AD jobs have gone to teachers or counselors and they have had assistants. The duties are often based on a 60-40 split.
The assistant athletic director at North Bullitt the past two years has been basketball coach Lee Barger and he is expected to assume the larger AD job soon.
The extra duties showed Robinette a different light on the AD position.
“Certainly,” he said without an hesitation. “I have a lot more respect now for Rob (Williams) and Junior (Baker) and Bob Waggoner for the things they did.
“There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes,” Robinette noted. “They do things that others don’t know about except for those that they work with.”
The North Bullitt program certainly was not broken when Robinette took over and he kept the changes to a minimum.
“We made some changes,” he pointed out. “We did some of the things that the Title IX people recommended. We also went back to one booster club. We also have one banquet for each season and that allows everyone to have a banquet.”
The AD job certainly involves overseeing finances and scheduling, but Robinette had a lot of turnover in his coaching ranks. He had new soccer coaches each of the past two years in both boys’ and girls’ play and that will be the case again for the upcoming season. This past spring, Robinette found himself handling one of the tennis teams when there were scheduling conflicts because Monica Clark was forced into coaching both of the programs.
“Coaching tenure has been an issue, especially for soccer,” Robinette said. “Our field is not good and I think some people have some unrealistic expectations. I think the situation is better now.”
(Before stepping down, Robinette has moved Chris Bass into the boys’ coach for soccer while Ryan Bringhurst will take over the girls’ program. Both were assistant coaches last season.)
“We had some turnover and some of that was with my encouragement,” Robinette said. “Some just felt they needed to do other things and couldn’t put the time in. There are not a lot of people out there for some of the jobs. It’s hard to find the people.”
But there have also been a number of success stories at North Bullitt over the past two years.
First was the formation of the wrestling program that meant that the school offered every sport sanctioned by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. North Bullitt has maintained a bowling team for several years and will be a leader when that sport joins the KHSAA for the 2011-2012 school year.
On the athletic fields, North Bullitt has won a pair of state championships in track the past two years and the school had a top five swimmer in the state.
Robinette sees the 60-40 job split at this point working well, but that it is just a stopgap measure before the school system is forced into making the job full-time for one person. In Jefferson County, each school has a full-time athletic director.
“I think the split AD job is good under the current format,” Robinette said. “I really think all three schools are big enough and offer enough that the school board needs to decide on a full-time AD. It would be in the best interests of the schools to make it a full-time job.
“We offer every sport that the KHSAA offers,” he added. “We’ll add bowling and if they are going to add archery, we’ll have that. But, we’re not getting any extra compensation.”
As his coaching resume will indicate, Robinette has a strong belief in the need for a strong after-school program for all students.
“I strongly believe that extra-curricular things are a major part of a successful school,” Robinette said. “Kids want to be proud of all aspects of their school.”
Robinette quickly found out that there is a lot of bureaucracy in a major school system. The indoor batting facility for baseball and softball was supposed to be done several years ago and there is still no heating and air-conditioning in it, although, it is being used for its intended purpose now. Both baseball and softball this spring played on fields without working scoreboards after electricity was cut and repairs were tied up in paperwork.
North Bullitt hosted just one track meet this spring because of the poor condition of the track (a problem all three schools have) and that was run without a public address system after that failed. Despite a recent addition and remodeling at the school, there are only three dressing rooms for events in the gym, meaning that for the school’s major holiday tournaments and intra-county games, that at least one team has to dress in a classroom.
“We made some progress, but it is time-consuming,” Robinette said. “There is a lot of bureaucracy to go through. Going through the right steps is time-consuming.
“We need an outside restroom facility really badly,” the retiring athletic director added. “We need to get the electrical problems worked out. Our track is not good. There are some facility improvements that need to get done. Those are things we need to work on as a school and a community. It takes time. It won’t happen overnight.”
In the short-term, Robinette plans to take a few weeks and just enjoy his retirement. Once that time passes, he will look at some different job opportunities before making a decision on the next phase of his life.
“I’m looking at some jobs in education and some in other things,” Robinette noted. “I want to take some time before I make some major decisions.”
It was a positive two years for Robinette.
“I want to thank (principal) Ms. (Tracey) Lamb for her support for the two years,” he concluded. “Then I need to thank Bob Blackburn (the Bullitt East athletic director) for his help. I could also call him and ask about procedures."