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Gaels' court is Cokey's Court

December 01, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

The basketball floor inside the Gael Center was nice and shiny, ready for its first official St. Maria Goretti basketball game.

Before the first tip, ceremonies were held as St. Maria Goretti named the floor "Cokey's Court," with new inscriptions on the floor to honor Cokey Robertson, now in his 34th year as coach of the Gaels.

Following speeches, Robertson cut a long strand of gold ribbon and posed for several pictures, one including several former players who visited their old coach last night.

"I got a little emotional during the ceremony," said Robertson. "I was at a low point in my coaching career when I got hired here (1978). The school gave me a chance. This is like icing on the cake."

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Later, his current batch of Gaels took the floor and produced a 72-63 victory over Bishop Guilfoyle (Pa.), the 767th win in Robertson's coaching career,

During ceremonies, Jack DeGele, commissioner of the Baltimore Catholic League, said to the crowd: "Cokey was a teacher to the boys and showed them that there was so much more to life than just basketball."

Pat Muldowney stepped to the microphone and talked about how he, three of his brothers and nephews David Bowen and Will Murray of the current team have played for Robertson.

Skip Chambers was recruited out of Martinsburg High School when Robertson coached at Hagerstown Community College in 1971. After Chambers spent three years at South Hagerstown as a JV coach and another period as a referee, he returned to basketball on Robertson's staff in 1981.

"I've had offers to be a head coach over the years, but I like it here so much with Cokey," said Chambers. "When I played for him, he was tough. But you learned from him.

"The kids like (Cokey) more when they step (out of basketball) and come back and really see how he taught them," said Chambers. "This is a well-deserved honor. I know if it were left up to him, he wouldn't have wanted it."

The honor came at the urging of athletic director Carol Brashears, who had many pieces of memorabilia adorned through the hallways of the Gael Center.

Robertson's wife, Charlene, has been with him every step of the way, coming to Hagerstown from Westminster, Md., following a stint at Thomas Johnson High in Frederick.

"He never, ever brought the game home with him," she said. "No matter how good, or how tough the game was, he never has."

Being the wife of a basketball coach, or the coach of any sport, can result in lonely periods. But Charlene Robertson said it best: "I still love him."

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