St. Joseph boys basketball coach Kelly Robinson steps down after 21 seasons

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Monday, April 15, 2019 | 5:27 PM


Kelly Robinson believed he was ending his St. Joseph basketball coaching career on a nice, round number of 20 seasons.

Then he realized he miscounted by one.

“I’m bad with math, and I work in payroll of all things,” Robinson said.

Robinson, the longest-tenured coach in the Alle-Kiski Valley and one of the longest in the WPIAL, stepped down over the weekend after 21 seasons at the helm of the St. Joseph boys basketball program.

“There’s never going to be a good time to leave,” Robinson said. “I love the kids, and every year I love the kids. This isn’t the first year I’ve thought about it, and there’s always kids coming up through the ranks that it’s like, oh, I’d love to coach these kids.

“Then I realized there’s never a good year. There’s never a time where it’s going to be easy. And this year coming up is going to be no different.”

Robinson said he’s nearing retirement in work, and ultimately he thought this would be the right time to step down even if it wasn’t an easy time.

Robinson’s father, Jerry, died in June. Robinson said he was happy to give his father, who loved basketball, so many years of enjoyment.

“I think he had the best seat in the house this year,” Robinson said.

Despite coaching at a small, private school, Robinson led St. Joseph to two decades of sustained success. The Spartans qualified for the WPIAL playoffs in 17 of his 21 seasons, including 13 in a row between 2003 and ’15. They made it to the quarterfinals eight times, the semifinals three times and advanced to the WPIAL championship game in 2005, losing by two points to Duquesne.

In Robinson’s final season, St. Joseph compiled an 18-6 record and won the outright Section 3-A championship, the Spartans’ fifth title under Robinson. They fell to Monessen in the WPIAL Class A quarterfinals.

“Especially in this day and age, there are coaches that I’ve known that have gone to the state finals and then the next year, they get fired, and it’s because of one disgruntled parent,” said Robinson, who finished with a record of 283-219. “I’ve been very blessed and very lucky that St. Joe’s stuck with me for all these years. There was never an issue I felt I had to worry about.”

Robinson also coached the Highlands girls basketball team for seven seasons, where he and the team cut down the nets after snapping an 85-game section losing streak. St. Joseph did the same thing after it beat Leechburg in overtime to claim the section title this season.

The coach said of many fond memories, he liked most when his players had fun. The Spartans were known for a fast-paced style under Robinson, with 10 players reaching 1,000 career points during his tenure. He said he also never held a Saturday practice during his time.

“The memories that I’ve had with the kids, we’ve had such fun kids to coach and I’ve had a blast over the years,” Robinson said. “Those memories of the enjoyment I’ve had coaching these kids — they had fun and they won, so it can go hand in hand.”

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Doug at 412-388-5830, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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