When I recently spoke with Sylvia Robinson, the community leader, teacher and a personal mentor who I have always called, “Coach,” she said if she could go back and live her life all over again she would always be a teacher.  I felt humbled by the integrity of this statement and proud to be long-associated with this woman of character.

In a world full of people chasing status and comfort for themselves, Coach Robinson has continually invested in others. In a world full of people wanting to be paid back, Coach Robinson has paid it forward.  I have been honored that she invested in my life.  As cancer has found her for a fifth time, I would like to honor her.

The pages of this newspaper have covered her legacy: her commitment to students inside of the classroom and on the field; the high standards she has role-modeled and held others to; her elevation not only of athletics but also of the athletes.  Fortunately, I get to say I have been a part of this legacy.

From her taking cheerleaders to the beach to a road trip to New Orleans that Carli Adams and I took with her senior year (1995), Coach has always committed to going the extra mile. Well after my time at Wilkes Central, she has been a friend, selflessly sharing lessons from her cancer battles when I had my own scare a couple of years ago. Her embodiment of high standards remains with me to this day.

I have a very clear memory of when I overlooked something when planning a cheerleading event. “Delegation does not mean you are off the hook.” The momentary pain of the critique gave way to the self-esteem associated with someone seeing your potential and holding you to a higher standard. The same goes for how she coached cheerleading, treating us as athletes and expecting as much.

You see, sometimes teachers and coaches impact your life not only by what they say in front of a classroom but by the values they role model and what they teach you to expect from yourself.  Coach Robinson brightened the lights of her students.  I am so grateful for the influence of Coach Robinson in my life.  Her faith and resilience have taken her so far in this life.  I wish her much peace, comfort and love.


Seattle, Wash.

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