By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Though he’s tried to step away from the game before, this time Jimmy Joe Robinson said it’s for good.
The Clovis Christian boys basketball coach has decided to retire and end a 34-year stretch in which Robinson was also a head coach at Clovis High, Melrose, Grady and, for one season, Lubbock Coronado. His overall coaching record stands at 556-237 after the Eagles went 16-11 this past season.
Randy McBroom, who has coached the school’s junior high team the last three years, will take over for Robinson at Clovis Christian.
“I’ve got a grandson (Josiah Boyd) that’s playing over at Lubbock Trinity (high school) and I really want to watch him play. And I’ve got a granddaughter, Bethany, who was the MVP of her junior-high team — so those two I’ll get to watch,” Robinson said. “The other reason is that, about two months ago, I had chest pains early in the morning. I prayed and it went away after about five minutes, but I thought I was fixing to go away and be with Jesus,” he added. “I get too gung-ho and I go too hard at it. I’m 70 and I think it’s just time for me to quit and watch.”
McBroom is a 2000 graduate from Lordsburg, where his father Rickie McBroom was the boys basketball coach. After high school, he played basketball and baseball at Southwestern Assemblies of God in Waxahachie, Texas.
“I’m excited. I think we have a very good team coming back. We’re starting once track’s over — we’re going to play in the Clovis summer league and go to a couple of team camps,” said McBroom, who tried to learn as much from Robinson as possible.
“Many times we just sat and talked — he has a lot of knowledge,” McBroom said. “He’s an awesome man. I’ve very much enjoyed working with him these last few years; working under him and learning from him.”
As assistant on the Clovis High basketball team for four years, Robinson took the CHS head job in 1971 and stayed until the 1983-84 season. The shining moment for Robinson’s Wildcats came in 1978-79, when Clovis won the Class 4A state championship and suffered only one loss.
Robinson went to Lubbock Coronado for a single season, in ‘84-’85, and — after a stint in the insurance business — coached at Grady from 1986-89.
Moving to Melrose, Robinson had some of his greatest success as the Buffaloes won Class 1A state titles in 1992 and 1993.
Though prompted by knee surgery to retire once in the late 1990s, it was a layoff that lasted only two years as Robinson returned to Melrose and guided the Buffs to another state championship in 2001.
Another retirement lasted for another two years until Robinson took the Clovis Christian job in 2004.
“I’ll miss the kids. The kids were a great bunch to coach,” Robinson said. “I think I’ll probably watch our Clovis Christian bunch play, watch Clovis play a little bit, but I’m really going to be over there (in Lubbock) a lot.”
Robinson savors memory about beating Hobbs
With four state championship games to choose from, as well as numerous other playoff appearances, Jimmy Joe Robinson says that his fondest memory in high school coaching comes from a regular-season game.
During the 1978-79 season, when Clovis would go on to win its first state title in over 25 years, Robinson suspended three starters for disciplinary reasons — just when the Wildcats were riding high with a 19-0 record. The trio wasn’t missed too much against Hereford, but the next game was a different story.
At district rival and perennial power Hobbs, Robinson’s Clovis team came in shorthanded against the Eagles.
“You know, I’ve always enjoyed winning state, but that was probably the most exciting game I’ve seen,” Robinson says. “I was upset with the kids for a little drinking situation. And I had some pressure, from some people, to put them back on the team — but they were sitting in the stands.”
But the ‘Cats did have star guards Nelson Franse and Bubba Jennings, who would go on to play respectively at New Mexico and Texas Tech, on the the Eagles’ home floor that night.
And Clovis led by 12 points, with five minutes left in the contest, when Jennings went down and hit his head.
“Bubba had to get 22 stitches, I think it was. We had a towel on him to stop the bleeding,” Robinson recalls.
Hobbs stormed back and cut the Wildcats’ lead to only one point.
“With ten seconds to go, Brooks (Jennings, Bubba’s father) comes over and says, ‘Coach, Bubba can play,’” he says. “I said, ‘Brooks, he’s got a concussion, he’s bleeding like a stuck hog. If you take the towel off his head, (the blood) is going to run right down the face — he won’t even be able to see the basket. “
But Jennings did go back in and was fouled immediately. Still woozy, Franse helped line-up his wobbly teammate at the free throw line.
Nelson said, “You can do it automatic, Bubba, because you’ve done it so many times before,” Robinson says.
Jennings, a junior, hit both free throws to preserve an 86-83 victory for Clovis.
“He hit the first one and you could have heard a pin drop. This was at Hobbs, mind you, and people were outside listening to the radio because they couldn’t get in,” Robinson said. “That was probably the best game I’ve ever seen.