Robinson’s first year at the helm ends with Coach of the Year honor

By: Maria Allard | Madison - Park News | Published July 10, 2015


MADISON HEIGHTS — He took over a program going through somewhat of a rebuild.

That’s how Justin Robinson saw it.

Over the past four years, Robinson was an assistant coach with the Bishop Foley baseball team that won three state titles and nearly made it four in 2014.

But from assistant to head coach in one offseason, the pressure shifted to him to keep the Ventures up to par, even with a much younger and less experienced squad.

Robinson hit the ground running this past spring, and when it came to league play, he proved himself time and time again.

While Foley’s state-title hopes were cut short in a playoff opener to defending champ Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, Robinson led his Ventures to 20 wins, a fourth consecutive Catholic League championship and, for the rookie skipper, Coach of the Year honors in the AA Division.

“I was a little surprised, to be honest,” Robinson said about earning the award. “I was asked who I felt should win it, and I thought the coach at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard did the best job in our division. So for me to get this was pretty surprising.”

Foley finished the season 20-8 and won the league championship despite a roster that went through a major overhaul following the 2014 playoff run.

“We had a young team, but we went out every day and competed,” Robinson said. “This really was a rebuilding year, or whatever you want to call it, but we made the most of it.”

Robinson, a Rochester resident who served for years under Buster Sunde before taking over, said his first year on the job was a learning process.

“You take it all in, see what works and what doesn’t,” he explained. “I had to learn patience, more than anything. Being a head coach of this magnitude is such a different dynamic than an assistant.”

He expects a different team next season, one with more experience to fall back on and more power in the lineup.

“But I was very happy with the first season,” he added. “Overall, it was a strong year. Obviously, we wanted to beat Liggett, and I think that would have really carried us. But looking to the future, it’s probably good for us. For those guys to feel that and use it to get better will benefit us as we move forward.”