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Cummings coach steps aside in midseason

January 13, 2012
North Carolina

By Bob Sutton. Burlington Tines-News

BURLINGTON - George Robinson, who in a dozen years directed Cummings High School to five state championships in boys’ basketball, is stepping aside from the position to take another role at the school.

Robinson, 42, becomes an assistant principal today at Cummings, with Alamance-Burlington School System policy preventing him from also holding a coaching role in his new capacity.

“That means I coached my last game Friday night,” he said Monday night. “Very bittersweet. I’m very thankful that I’ve got the opportunity I’ve got before me. But to have to turn the page on a very successful part of my life has me a little misty.”

Chas Criss, in his first season as an assistant coach with the team, has been promoted to head coach. Criss previously spent two seasons as the junior varsity boys’ coach and has helped with the Cummings girls’ basketball program in the past.

Robinson has been in line for the administrative role at the school and his hiring has been speculated for weeks. The official appointment came Monday.

Robinson said ideally the change wouldn’t come in the middle of a season.

“You can know something is going to be coming and not be totally prepared for it,” he said. “I’ve been in a real, real, real good situation. And I’m still going to be in a good situation.”

The Cavaliers hold an 8-2 record this season, including a 3-1 mark in the Mid-State 2-A Conference. Cummings won its final seven games under Robinson.

The Cavaliers’ next game is Friday night at Providence Grove. Two games scheduled for earlier this week were moved to later dates because of the school’s exams.

“It was hard to find out he wasn’t coaching (any more),” senior guard Traye Guye said. “I was hearing about. We thought he was going to be able to finish the season.”

Robinson’s influence on the Cavaliers was strong from the start. He was promoted from assistant coach in July 1999, a few months after the school’s first state championship in boys’ basketball.

The Cavaliers continued to excel, winning their most-recent state championship at the Class 2-A level in 2007.

“I tell a lot of people I can drive the heck out of a bus. I can get them to the game,” Robinson said. “I’m smart enough to get out of the way and let them do their thing.”

Cummings won two games last week with home victories against Eastern Randolph and then Bartlett Yancey. Robinson’s mannerisms were much like they’ve been for a decade.

“It was eating away at me from the inside,” he said, noting that it has been a sentimental time for him.

“Watching it grow and grow and grow and sooner or later you have to let it go. If we win another championship, does that make me a better coach? I don’t think so.”

Robinson met with the team Monday, though there were hints to the players Saturday when Robinson didn’t attend a practice. He has been a fixture with the program since the current players entered school.

“Ever since middle school, I’ve been waiting to play for Coach Rob,” Guye said, pointing out that he had cousins suit up for Robinson.

Away from the court, Robinson has been the school’s in-school suspension supervisor. A 1988 Williams High School graduate who went on to Lenoir-Rhyne, he recently received his master’s degree in public administration from North Carolina Central.

He said this step is a natural progression at Cummings.

“To get to see the other (aspects) of the school will be good for me,” he said.  “I’m leaving a great group of kids with a great coach.”

Robinson said Criss assumed a larger role in recent weeks and has overseen the Cavaliers’ defense.

In 2007, Robinson was named The Associated Press Coach of the Year for boys’ basketball in North Carolina.

The Cavaliers made several other deep postseason runs to regionals with Robinson in charge. Last February, they reached a Class 2-A sectional final before bowing out.

“I probably can tell you how many we gave away,” he said of other close calls.

“Wins and losses not withstanding, I got a chance to be around some special people.”

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