AKRON – Kirk Robinson may have been a role player for coach Floyd Henson during his high school playing days.
But Robinson has truly been an Indiana All-Star in every sense of the word during his time in stripes throughout an illustrious career as a high school official.
Robinson, a 1977 Tipppecanoe Valley High School graduate, scored 62 points in his prep basketball career.
But his contribution to the sport that he loves for more than 30 years can’t be measured though by any means.
Robinson, a dedicated, devoted and highly-decorated high school basketball and volleyball official, is set to hang us whistle at the end of the 2016-17 hoops season.
The 58-year old Robinson, who is in peak physical condition, has some good reasons for deciding that it’s time to end his run as one of the state’s most respected officials.
“I want to be able to see and spend time with my family, especially my grandson in Indianapolis,” said Robinson in a recent phone interview. “There are other passions that I want to pursue and dreams that I want to chase.”
Robinson and his high school sweet heart and wife of 37 years Kim have two children, son Kyle of Indianapolis and daughter Kara of Akron. Their grandson Truman will turn five in March.
Robinson also plans to devote time to another love of his.
“I want to be able to focus on training all winter for triathlons and half-marathons,” remarked Robinson. “I could go another 10 years officiating, but I’ve made my run. I’ve been fortunate to climb the pinnacle.”
The pinnacle is right for the organized, detail-oriented man who boasts a calm demeanor and a high degree of professionalism regardless of the setting or situation on the court.
Robinson’s resume speaks volumes about his ability in both sports. He has worked 170 state tournament events, including 77 sectionals, 54 regionals and 23 semistates. Robinson has worked the State Finals 16 times, including five times in girls basketball, three times in boys basketball and eight times in volleyball. He was the 2007 Volleyball Official of the Year and the Girls Basketball Official of the Year in 2012. He has been ranked as the state’s top volleyball official six times.
Robinson, who works as the Purchasing Manager for Pike Lumber in Akron, has left quite the impression on two of his longest-tenured partners.
“Kirk was excellent for my career,” said Dan Richard, who has officiated volleyball with Robinson for more than 30 years. “Working with him I knew that I had to be at my best. He put in the effort and wanted to be the best and that pushed me.
“He cared about what he was doing in every match. He always gave his best effort. He was a perfectionist. I think that we pushed each other and it was good for both of us.”
Richard, a Warsaw resident, has worked the State Finals in volleyball a state best nine times. Robinson is second on that list with his eight appearances.
Robinson has worked the hardwood for about the past 15 years with Eric Coburn.
“I have a very high amount of respect for Kirk,” said Coburn, who just worked a game with Robinson on Tuesday night at Caston. “He’s a person of great character and integrity. He has great confidence as an official. He’s decisive, well-poised and always honest and truthful.
“He’s just always been loyal and encouraging. He treats coaches and players with courtesy and respect. He’s very thorough and just such a well-rounded person.
“Hell yes i’m going to miss him. We know each other so well on the court. He’s made us all better. It’s tough to see a leader like him leave the game, but he deserves to do something else.”
Robinson, who has been very active in the Northern Indiana Officials Association and has officiated contests in 152 different venues across the Hoosier State, says there are several factors that make a good official.
“Confidence and consistency are two of the biggest things for an official,” said Robinson. “You have to referee every game to the final horn. You also have to have the courage to make the tough call.
“Young officials need to take their time. They need to take time getting experience. Don’t be in a hurry to work the big games. I turned down games early in my career because I was not ready for them. They need to listen to older officials and know that you get out of it what you put into it with your effort.
“I officiate every game like it’s a state championship game. I still get butterflies before every game I work and I think that you should. I don’t want to get complacent. I’m still trying to have that perfectly officiated game.”
Robinson, who last regular-season game will be at Concord on Feb. 24, got his start officiating in a church league he had been playing in.
He vividly recalls though his first varsity game at Argos some three decades ago.
“I was filling in for someone that night and Argos was playing Detroit Country Day, who had a freshman playing for them named Chris Webber,” recounted Robinson. “He got a technical in the game for hanging on the rim after a dunk.
“But I was not the one who gave him the technical,” added Robinson with a laugh.
Robinson, who estimates he has worked between 5,500-6,000 contests, has officiated prep games that included players such as Eric Gordon, Derek Favors, Sean May, Stephanie White, Ruth Riley and Shanna Zolman.
“My favorite place to officiate was Hinkle Fieldhouse,” noted Robinson. “That was a thrill for me with the history of that building. I worked a regional final there in 2007 between North Central and Pike with Eric Gordon against Juwan Johnson. There were like 12,000 people there. That one sticks out for me.”
Robinson, all 5-7 of him, makes no bones about how big his love is for Indiana’s game.
“Basketball is all I did as a kid,” related Robinson. “I’ve always loved it. I remember drawing out my own brackets for the state tournament. This is Indiana. This is the basketball state.”
Robinson was “the guy at the end of the bench” by his own description for the Vikings. His senior season in 1976-77, Valley went 20-2 overall with a loss to Warsaw in the Triton Sectional.
Richard summed up the end of a tremendous run for his friend and partner in a most appropriate way.
“I’m sad to see it end, but good for Kirk,” concluded Richard.