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State champs: Robinson named state's coach of the year

Hastings softball coach Dean Robinson applauds his team after they won the state title Friday afternoon. (Star Gazette photo by Chad Richardson)

As Dean Robinson began coaching his daughter, Brittani Robinson, at the age of 5 in T-ball, he never imagined that he would be a varsity softball coach, let alone a varsity softball coach of a state champion team.

He followed Brittani from T-ball, to baseball, to in-house softball. Then one weekend, while he was out of town, his wife, Kandi Robinson, signed their daughter up for traveling softball. Not only did she sign Brittani up to play, but she signed Dean Robinson up to coach.

"It was a surprise when I got home," Dean Robinson said. "That's where it all started. Everything happens for a reason though."

Robinson knew he wanted to continue coaching his daughter, at least until she reached the 16U level. He began attending coaching clinics put on by, the then varsity head coach Mike Mook. Mook eventually asked Robinson to be the assistant varsity coach.

When Mook announced that he would be leaving the program, Robinson knew that he wanted to take the step from assistant coach to head coach.

"It was a no-brainer," said Robinson. "The job opening was announced and I applied the next day. I knew the (program's) system really well. I thought it was the best thing for the girls and that it would lead to a smooth transition."

With this season ending, Robinson has completed his third year as head coach. The first two years, the varsity team has placed third in state. This year was capped off with a state champion title.

His daughter, Brittani, describes what it's like having her dad as her coach: "We come home from practice and he talks about all (the players) like they're my sisters, which they are. He genuinely cares about every one of them, which you don't get with a lot of coaches."

Robinson is employed at Graphic Design in Hastings. He said that it is the perfect job for a high school coach because the hours work out perfectly. He usually goes into work between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and is off by 1 p.m., just in time for practice.

Robinson credits his ability to succeed as a coach to his family: his wife Kandi, daughter Brittani, and son Blake.

"They are a huge part of my success," he said. "They give me the time I need to get stats together and get ready for the games. They realize what I need to do and allow me to do it."

Robinson also gives credit to his coaching staff, junior varsity coach Heather Maier and assistant varsity coach, Mary Sobiech.

"They did a great job keeping the team focused and helping the team excel," said Robinson.

For the third consecutive year Robinson has been voted Section Coach of the Year and Conference Coach of the Year by fellow coaches. This year he was also voted High School AAA Coach of the Year.

Robinson plans on continuing as varsity head coach and will take it year-by-year from there. "I love coaching," said Robinson. "I definitely am planning on being here."

Next season will be his first season of coaching without his daughter on the team. She graduated this year.

"It's going to be weird not having (her) on the team," said Robinson. "It'll leave a big void but it's a big step for me and I'm ready to take it."