HEBRON ESTATES - After ten years at the helm, North Bullitt girls’ basketball coach Bill Robinette announced that he was resigning that post this spring.
With a 144-127 record, Robinette is the winningest basketball coach in the school’s history.
In fact, before he arrived, the program had never won more than 14 games in a season. In seven of his ten seasons, the Lady Eagles won at least that many games including a school record 19 wins two seasons ago.
That 2007-08 team finished with a 19-8 mark and had eight seniors. In retrospect, the coach felt that maybe he should have stepped aside then and let someone else start the rebuilding process. He stayed, and the team won only eight games including three games over the last two months of the season.
“I think sometime around Christmas I had made up my mind,” Robinette said last week. “It’s about doing what you like. I realized I had lost my interest and was showing frustration. I felt it was time to step back.”
For all the success that the Lady Eagles had under Robinette during the regular seasons, there was very little to show for it in the post-season. This is a basketball program that has not won a district title since 1979. Only twice in ten years did the Lady Eagles reach a district final and they lost both of those in 2001 and again in 2005. Those teams then lost in the first round of the Eighth Region Tournament.
In 2008, Robinette had his best team but played in one of the toughest districts in the state. The Lady Eagles lost a semi-final game in the 24th District to Fairdale, a team that advanced to the Sixth Region championship game that year.
North Bullitt is not a basketball factory. Rebuilding is a fact of life for anyone running the program.
“Basically the ten years I’ve been here we had to rebuild three different times,” Robinette pointed out. “I have two more years until I retire and we are rebuilding with freshmen and middle school kids. I wasn’t going to be around for their senior year. I felt it was better to have someone step in and stay with them.”
The Lady Eagle program doesn’t stray very far away from the high school team.
“We started with young kids a few times,” Robinette said. “We don’t have the same AAU programs and dedication as in other programs like in Mount Washington. We have to build for certain years. I knew I wouldn’t see this next group through.”
But he didn’t step down after the 2008 season.
“I didn’t want people to think that I was only wanting to coach good players,” the coach pointed out. “There is a lot more to it than that. You coach for a lot of reasons. That’s why I stayed in one more year.”
Robinette will continue being an assistant football coach at the school. He also had a long stint as the North Bullitt baseball coach, winning one Eighth Region title and he also coached baseball for a short time at Jeffersontown High School from which he graduated. He was also an assistant girls’ basketball coach in the 1980’s with Phil Berry.
“He taught me a lot,” Robinette said of Berry and learning how to coach girls. “It is different (between coaching boys and girls). Guys have a tendency to get mad and get over it. Girls get mad and don’t get over it.
“Guys can play with guys they are not friends with,” the coach added. “Girls need the group to be friends. Girls will listen and are more receptive to learn things. There are significant differences.”
Still, Robinette had to learn on the job like any young coach. The toughest lesson came that first March when he had the top-seeded team in the 29th District Tournament, but that group was upset by Spencer County, 50-48 in the first game.
“If I had a chance to have anything back it was that first district tournament,” Robinette said. “I felt we should have won the district. My inexperience at the time had a lot to do with that. We let one bad quarter stop us.
“That was my worst memory,” the coach added. “That was a tough loss to take.”
When North Bullitt and the other two Bullitt County teams moved to the 24th District and the Sixth Region at the start of the 2005-06 season, life became much more difficult. Fairdale won the first three district titles including the 52-48 decision two years ago against a strong Lady Eagle team.
Robinette had winning records in seven of his ten seasons and he feels that he is leaving the program in better shape than when he took over for Mike Riffe.
“I’d like to think it is better and the expectations higher,” the coach said. “We still face some of the same problems in developing an AAU program and have more cooperation out of the middle schools.
“We have gotten to the point where people want to stay here,” Robinette said of cutting down on the number players going to private schools in Louisville. “We were losing them to Catholic schools. I think most kids will stay here now.”
Over his ten seasons at North Bullitt, Robinette had two different ‘right-hand’ assistant coaches. For the first five seasons it was Karen Norton and then for five seasons it was Jeff Richardson. Richardson has also stepped down and will not be a candidate to replace Robinette.
The last ten years of girls’ basketball is not something that Robinette would ever want to trade.
“All-in-all it’s good memories,” the coach noted. “We took three different groups of girls to Florida (for holiday tournaments). The kids had a good time. There are a lot more good memories than bad memories.”
Bill Robinette's Coaching Record at North Bullitt
Eighth Region; 29th District
1999-00 14-12 lost to Spencer 50-48
2000-01 11-18 Beat BE 47-42
lost to BC 49-23
lost to Shelby 77-28
2001-02 14-13 lost to Spencer 57-44
2002-03 17-8 lost to BC 51-42
2003-04 11-13 lost to BE 57-28
2004-05 17-13 beat BC 46-30
lost to BE 52-42
lost to Shelby 64-30
Sixth Region; 24th District
2005-06 15-12 lost to BC 47-36
2006-07 18-10 lost to BE 46-33
2007-08 19-8 lost to Fairdale 52-48
2008-09 8-20 beat Southern 57-26
lost to BE 44-34
144-127, 3-12 in Post-Season