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With Robertson retiring, which league will Goretti play in?

February 04, 2008|By Tim Koelble

Cokey Robertson has made his decision. Soon, it will be time for St. Maria Goretti's administrators to make theirs.

Robertson, the boys basketball coach at Goretti since 1974, announced last week that he will retire from coaching at the end of the season, leaving many to wonder what league -- if any -- the Gaels will play in next season.

Goretti has been a member of the Baltimore Catholic League -- at Robertson's behest -- since its formation in the early 1980s.

The question now is, with Robertson stepping down, will Goretti continue its association with the BCL?

"I do know there are probably some pretty influential Baltimore people who are Catholic school graduates and will want to see (the BCL) continue," Robertson said. "Whether that includes Goretti remaining, I don't know."

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Robertson did admit that the travel involved was a factor in his decision to retire.

"Just like going to Fort Hill (last Wednesday), you're traveling in the fog and rain to Cumberland County, you are driving the bus, but on the way back you are alone because the players are coming back with their parents," he said. "That's the type of travel and situation that weighed heavily on me."

He also cited travel problems involving treks around the beltway to Towson Catholic, Loyola and St. Frances Academy, trips that required additional time in the schedule and invariably included bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Athletic director Carol Brashears said a decision on the BCL would not be made immediately, although scheduling for next season would have to be considered very soon.

"I know Cokey thinks (the BCL) will continue on, but right now there's no decision on what we'll do with the BCL," said Brashears. "The travel and the pace can be grueling."

With the exception of boys basketball, all teams at Goretti are members of the Apple Valley League. Brashears acknowledged there have been discussions on the formation of an AVL boys basketball league, which would still involve some travel, but eliminates the longer, grueling trips.

"There has been discussion and it is on the agenda for the next meeting (Thursday)," Brashears said. "It would make sense and it would be a nice match with the other sports if this would happen. But there's one school that isn't in favor of it, so we have some work to do."

Brashears has been at the school for 30 years, the past nine as the Gaels' athletic director, succeeding Robertson. Along with her husband, Mike -- who coaches freshman basketball at the school -- they've had two sons filter through the program during Robertson's tenure.

"Two years ago we talked about going out at the same time," she said. "Until his letter that he was going to retire, I hadn't thought about it happening."

Brashears said no matter the decision on Goretti's league affiliation, the Mid-Atlantic Invitation Tournament, which kicks off Goretti's season each year, would continue.

The question on Robertson's eventual replacement also will have to be answered.

"This has happened all so suddenly, so I'm not sure exactly what we'll do," said Brashears.

School president Bill McKinley, principal Chris Siedor and school board president Chris Shaper would likely make up the committee, or at least part of a committee, that would begin shaping plans to hunt down Robertson's successor.

And while Robertson, who has 776 victories at Goretti and another 96 wins from stints at Westminster and Thomas Johnson, won't be on the sidelines, he will not become a total divorcee from the school.

He said he would continue to run the Summer Basketball League at Goretti and oversee the Mid-Maryland summer sports camps at the school. However, he did say that he would likely step down as commissioner of the Apple Valley League and director of the local Elks Hoop Shoot.

"I still want to help the kids, but there will be times for other things on the agenda," he said. "I just won't be the coach."

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