Former St. Maria Goretti High School basketball coach Cokey Robertson honored

August 23, 2008|By MARIE GILBERT

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- It was a night of emotions -- and a lot of memories.

Not just about the wins -- 698 of them as basketball coach at St. Maria Goretti High School -- but the relationships he developed and the people he has touched.

One after another, they stood at the podium and spoke of the teacher, the loyal friend, the devoted husband and father.

They spoke of the man who put Gaels basketball on the map and honored him for his longtime dedication to the young people who played the game.


But Cokey Robertson also was knocked down a peg or two by the people who know him best. And it all was in good fun.

More than 150 of his family members, friends, former players and supporters attended a Roast and Boast for Robertson Saturday night at Beaver Creek Country Club.

Robertson retired this year after a 47-year coaching career -- 34 of them at Goretti.

"We wanted to do something special to celebrate all his years of coaching," said Carol Brashears, director of athletics at Goretti. "Following his final game, people didn't have a chance to express their appreciation. So we thought a roast would be a lot of fun."

The event was not a surprise to Robertson, she said.

"But he doesn't know who's speaking or what they're going to say," Brashears said.

Guest speaker for the evening was Pete Strickland, assistant basketball coach at North Carolina State University and a friend of Robertson.

Also speaking were former players Mark Scallion, Jeff Deffinbaugh, Pat Lordon and Darryl Robison, as well as family and friends, including Everett and Jo Ann Spiker, Jack Degele, Ralph McCarty, Lloyd Robertson, Thomas Strickler and Jake Gruver.

There were stories about golf games, locker room pep talks and nicknames -- both his own and the ones he gave to his players.

It was a night of running jokes.

And that was just fine with Robertson.

"I don't know what to expect," he said beforehand. "I just hope that it's a fun night for everybody. That's what it's all about. I'm looking forward to it. But I think I need to have time for rebuttals."

Robertson said he was touched by the large turnout and was enjoying visiting with people he hadn't seen in years, including friends he had gone to high school with in the 1950s.

He also had an opportunity to talk with former players who now are adults with careers and families.

"I can remember them coming into the gym as ninth-graders and now they're successful businessmen," he said. "Time really goes by quickly."

Robertson said he will miss coaching basketball, but already is enjoying retirement.

"I'm an avid gardener, I love to golf and I'm able to spend more time with my family, including my seven grandchildren," he said.

But he still will be a part of Goretti basketball.

"I'll be at the games. And they gave me a key to the gym, so I'll still be around," he said. "In certain respects, it will be different. But I'll continue to support the program. I'll always be a part of the Goretti family."

The Herald-Mail Articles