Q&A with Basketball Head Coach

Coach Tina Robbins

By Drew Aggus
Sports Editor


What is your name?

Tina Robbins

Where are you from?

Duenweg, Missouri, which is a small town east of Joplin, so I usually claim Joplin, because nobody knows where Duenweg is.

What drew you to basketball?

I played a lot of sports growing up. And basketball seemed to be the one I was drawn to the most. I liked the fast-pace action of the game, and I think that’s probably what drew me to it.

Where all have you played basketball?

I played at Joplin High School, and then I went on and played at Missouri State in Springfield.

What position(s) did you play?

In high school, I kind of played all over. And when I went to Missouri State, I played the point guard position.

Can you discuss your career as a player?

Absolutely. In high school, I was fortunate enough to play on two teams that took second place in state – or maybe that’s unfortunate that we never did win it, but fortunate enough to get there. And then in college, I had a fantastic career at Missouri State. We won four conference championships while I was there, made it to a Sweet Sixteen and a Final Four, had a lot of great teammates, played for great coaches, and I got to meet a lot of great people along the way.

What was your favorite part about playing basketball?

Oh, gosh. I don’t know. There’s a lot of favorite parts, I suppose. I love the comradery of being part of a team. And, you know, basketball is a team sport, and you cannot do it by yourself. So it’s fun to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself. I enjoy just going out – the competition of it, and competing with other people and against other people, and trying to give your best each and every time you’re out there.

Can you discuss your career as a coach?

Yes. This is my 22nd year of coaching. I coached four years at Joplin High School, after I graduated college, and then six years at Glendale High School in Springfield, and then I went to LeTourneau University in east Texas for two years, and I’ve been here at Crowder for 10 years. In terms of record, wins-losses, I’ve had some good teams, some bad teams. I try not to look at the wins and losses so much. Obviously, you’re judged by what your record is, and everyone wants to win, of course, but I try to make a positive impact on the lives of the kids that I’m fortunate enough to be able to coach. Here at Crowder, being a two-year school, you know we have a lot of kids coming and going ‘cause they’re only here for two years, so I try to help them to reach whatever it is their goal is here at Crowder, and also as they leave, and just try to make a positive impact in their life. And I hope that 10, 20 years down the road that they still come back and see me and call me “coach.”

What is your favorite part about being a basketball coach?

The kids. Just on a day-to-day basis, being able to be with them in practice. Obviously, the kids love the game, and playing in the games. That’s fun, too. Just getting to know each of them individually and getting to know they’re character and their personality off the court. Most people just see who they are as a player, and I am fortunate enough to get to know them as a person, as well. That’s definitely the best part for me.

Why did you decide to coach here at Crowder?

Like I said, before I was at Crowder, I was in Texas. And I am very close to my family, and I wanted to move back closer to home. This position opened up, and it seemed like a good fit for me. So I applied for the job, and was fortunate enough to get it, and have really enjoyed my time here.

Where do you see Crowder’s basketball program 5 years from now?

That’s hard to say. I even say when I’m recruiting that I’m year-by-year…I can talk about this next group, because it’s kind of hard to say, because we have such turnover. We have a great group of returners for next season. We have six kids returning, and they all have a lot of playing experience. I think we’ve brought in a good group of freshmen, so I’m really excited to see what this group can do next year. But as far as five years down the line, it is really hard to say, because, you know, you’re getting so many new players each and every year.

What are your goals as a coach here at Crowder?

We talk to our kids a lot about not focusing on the winning and losing; everybody wants to win. We talk to them about focusing on the process. For me, my goal, whenever kids come in, is to help them get better on the court, better academically, and better off the court, too, just in terms of becoming a better person. And not that they’re a bad person to begin with, but it’s such a transitional phase in their life, and helping them to become the person that they want to be.

Have there been any players that have really stuck out to you from a coach’s standpoint?

I don’t like to name anybody, by name, but, you know, I can probably go back and name, I’ve been here 10 years, and I can probably list name-for-name every person that I’ve had in my program. Whether they’re an All-American, or they hardly ever play, doesn’t matter. We try to treat them all the same. And we had a special group that went to the National Tournament in 2012-13, but a group that maybe didn’t succeed in terms of wins-losses is just as special. I’ve had a lot of great kids that have come through, and I foresee that we’ll have more.

You recently won Coach of the Year for Region 16. Can you talk about what that award means to you?

To me, it’s a team award. It encompasses our players, and my staff – I only have one assistant coach, but it’s not an award just for me; it’s for all of us. That’s how I view it.

What are the most meaningful honors that you have received as a player or as a coach?

Coach of the Year is nice, because I think it encapsulates our whole team. I don’t get too hung up on awards. I like to win, and of course, as a coach, I like to see the growth of the players, and see them be successful – whether that’s getting an award, or winning a tournament, or just succeeding in something that they thought maybe they couldn’t do. We’ve had kids that have come in here that are first-generation graduates, and thought maybe they’d never graduate. To me, those are the things that I like to see.

What was it like playing in March Madness?

Awesome. Every year when it comes around, you kind of relive the memories. This year happened to be the 25-year anniversary of our Final Four team, so they did a lot of different things to honor that team, and kind of relive the memories. It’s always special when March comes around, because it brings back those really great memories. I always kind of root for the underdog, ‘cause we were definitely the underdog, so I like to see the underdogs win.

Do you still keep up with Lady Bears’ basketball?

Yes. A little bit from afar. I try to make it to at least one game a year, but with our schedule, it kind of conflicts, so it makes it difficult, but I definitely do keep up with the team, and their successes.

I was reading some stats, and I saw that you were a pretty deadly 3-point shooter. Do you have any advice for shooters?

We try to help our kids every year. To me, the biggest thing is you just have to get in a gym and put in the work. Not everybody has textbook form, but whatever your form is, as long as you’re in the gym and you’re spending countless hours perfecting it, I think you can become a perfect shooter.

I also saw that you were pretty quick on the defensive end. How were you able to achieve such great success when it came to stealing the ball?

My college coach was very demanding on the defensive end. That was priority number one. If you did not play defense, you did not play. So I learned pretty quickly that if I wanted to get out on the court that I was going to learn to play some defense. She always put us in a position, as individuals and as a team, to be successful. Our practices were way harder than games ever were. So when we got into a game, it seemed like a breeze.

You seemed to be pretty strong all-around. You were a great passer, a sharpshooter, an excellent defender, and you even led the team in free throws in ‘94. How valuable to you feel that all-around effort is for a team? Is that something that you think gets underappreciated?

I do. I think it’s a reflection of our society. The first thing after a game that they’re going ask a kid is ‘How many points did you score?’ That’s one of the things we talk to our kids about is – it’s not what’s on the stat sheet that shows up. Obviously, we focus on the process, the end result – what is on the scoreboard. You’ve got to be content, as a player, whether you score 40 points or 0 points, what contribution are you making? ‘Cause it is a team effort. So we definitely try to look for well-rounded players who can do multiple things, that want to play both ends of the floor, that have great character, and that want to be great teammates. You’ve got to have players that they call ‘the role players.’ Not everybody’s going to score 20 points, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  Again, it’s a team sport. It’s about being a part of something bigger than yourself.

Do you keep up with the WNBA at all?
A little, but not a lot, just because of it being in the summer.

Who are/were your favorite basketball players, male or female?

Of course, in my era, when I grew up, I was a huge Michael Jordan fan – the best player to ever play. I do still believe that. I was a big Duke fan, and still am a big Duke fan. So I loved to watch Laettner and Hurley and Hill. Probably my favorite, when I was in high school, was Steve Alford. Love to watch him play.

Do you enjoy any sports besides basketball?

I do. I played baseball when I was growing up, and I played volleyball, as well, in high school. Now, I like to golf. I’m not real good at it, but I do like to golf. I [also] like to fish. Those are probably the main two things that old people can do, right?

What are your hobbies outside of athletics?

Anything active. I like to do active things. I consider like golfing or fishing [to be active]. I do like to read; I read a ton of books, every year, because I think that if you’re not reading, you’re not growing. I like to go watch my nieces play. They’re at that age, so I consider that kind of a hobby, ‘cause it keeps me pretty busy. But other than that, nothing really, ‘cause I don’t really like to garden or anything like that. [Laughs]