Reflections from press row on Cokey Robertson's career

February 29, 2008

On March 4, 2001, I traveled to Goucher College in Towson, Md., to cover St. Maria Goretti in the Baltimore Catholic League championship game against Towson Catholic and its star, Carmelo Anthony. I didn't know much about Anthony then, nor did I know all that much about the Gaels - aside from their reputation as a great program with a great coach.

That one game told me all I needed to know.

Watching warmups, the prevailing thought in my mind was, "Man, Goretti may be in trouble." Towson Catholic was big, physical and quick. Goretti, by comparison, was much smaller and slower. I expected a one-sided drubbing.

What I got was a lesson in team basketball.

The Gaels - behind stars Matt Tanner and Rodney Gibson - defeated Towson Catholic with patience and precision. Their cuts, screens and ball movement dissected the Owls. To this day, it remains the best example I've seen of a smart, well-schooled team getting the best of a more athletic team.


It's also the game that showed me why Cokey Robertson is considered a legend.

Dan Kauffman, Herald-Mail


Cokey's players were better when they left than when they arrived.

That's the best compliment you can give a coach. The talented guys with loads of ability had their skills honed for college ball because he insisted on playing the game the right way with an adherence to fundamentals. The bench guys learned the game, too, along with a sense of teamwork they could carry with them when they departed Goretti.

It's been a long time since I saw the Gaels play, but those stick with me.

There were some good coaches in the Hagerstown area when I worked there so many moons ago: Jim Brown and Diane Stahl at North High; Kevin Murphy at Williamsport and Tom Kitchens at Smithsburg, just to name a few.

And Cokey, of course.

One of the best.

Rick Gano, Associated Press-Chicago

Herald-Mail 1976-82

After watching Cokey win a game his team probably shouldn't have, in a gym with people hanging off the rafters, sitting on the floor and on the stage in the St. Maria Goretti Gym, I remember walking up the steps in the back part of the gym up to the interview room/office/equipment room.

It was always a pleasure to work with Cokey, win or lose (not many losses, actually) because of his knowledge of the game, commitment to the kids and passion for teaching the game of basketball.

He exemplified class, and Washington County basketball has been and will always be much richer for his longtime presence and professionalism.

Doug Dull, University of Maryland

Associate AD-Media Relations

Herald-Mail 1982-89

I've been watching Cokey Robertson's teams play for more than 40 years, since his days at Thomas Johnson, and enjoyed a courtside view as his Goretti teams evolved from the scrappy overachievers of the late 1970s to a nationally ranked powerhouse within a decade. The Gaels' win over Joe Gallagher's St. John's (D.C.) squad in the finals of the 1984 Mid-Atlantic Invitational before a hyperactive crowd at the Gael Center was a particular highlight. A class act in victory and defeat, Cokey's on anyone's All-Interview team.

By my lingering memory of the man, and all one needs to know about his competitive spirit, is of Cokey playing his golf ball from a risky, muddy lie at the edge of a water hazard on a long-ago summer morning at what is now the first hole at Stonebridge Country Club. He caught more mud than ball on his downswing, and emerged wearing a fresh coat of soggy West Virginia soil. But his ball found the green.

Bob Fleenor staff

Herald-Mail sports department, 1977-1988

I really admire Cokey Robertson because he's all about KIDS.

He is a great teacher of the game, whether he's teaching defensive drills at a station at his summer basketball camp or teaching his high school team how to hedge on ball screens.

I have always admired his enthusiasm for working with kids and for teaching the game.

His teams have always been known for their patience on offense and their ability to throw different looks at you defensively.

His teams were always well-prepared because he put in so much time scouting his opponents.

Everyone knows this is his last season at Goretti, but he's not coasting into retirement. I saw him scouting the Middletown-Frederick game a few weeks ago, and it didn't surprise me because he's always worked as hard as he could to prepare his team.

He's just a great man and a great ambassador for the game. He has gone out of his way to help younger coaches.

And we're all grateful to God for his positive influence on KIDS and adults alike.

Tim Leber, School Support

Middletown High School

Former coach at Middletown, Linganore

Herald-Mail 1988-90

I don't remember who Goretti was playing - St. Frances? Towson Catholic? I don't even remember if the Gaels won or not. All I remember is doing a postgame interview with Cokey while he was setting up the tables for Sunday bingo for the school.

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