On the Bench with Byron Higgin

Former Gopher wrestling coach is coming here

Former Minnesota Gophers wrestling Coach J. Robinson is coming to Minneota on Nov. 1 to speak to coaches, wrestlers, students and fans.

The former coach, national wrestling champion, Olympian, Army Airborne Ranger and Vietnam Veteran is a good friend of Minneota Wrestling Coach Joel Skillings.

“He’s done more for me and in a round-about way for our (wrestling) program. He’s allowed me to travel the country,” said Skillings. Robinson will talk about discipline, dedication, sacrifice, hard work, responsibility, accountability and service.

Skillings contacted Robinson, who operates the largest network of wrestling camps in the country and, “He said would come and talk. He just wants to help,” said Coach Skillings. Robinson was head coach at the U of M from 1986 to 2016 and won three national championships as the coach.

He’s been inducted into the national Hall of Fame and was the National Wrestling coaches Coach of the Year in 2001. He captured four national titles in wrestling and competed in the 1972 Olympic games.

A second lieutenant, he attended Airborne and Ranger School and had a tour in Vietnam in 1970 to 1971. He’s held many summer camps and Coach Skillings worked with him for many years at those camps that saw more than 35,000 campers come for instruction.

“He’s had a big impact on me. He’s a wonderful person and has done so many things for kids,” Coach Skillings said. Robinson, while he coaches wrestlers, tried to teach kids to change and develop habits that would impact their lives both personally and professionally.

“It’s not what you say that counts, but what you do,” Robinson says. Robinson, who lost his job as Gopher coach, was relieved of his duties for not handling “alleged” drug instances on his team in what the University deemed to be the correct manner.

“He’s old school and handled it his way. None of the kids were ever prosecuted,” Coach Skillings said. He calls Robinson, “A huge mentor of mine.”

Skillings says Robinson’s camps, all still intact, have made him, “The founder of the modern day camp system.” Skillings has traveled across the country helping Robinson with his camps.

“The camps are huge,” Coach Skillings said. The agenda for Robinson’s visit to Minneota is still being set but the former Gopher Coach is likely to spend some time talking and visiting with others while here.


•Springfield held a “Tackle Cancer game,” against Minneota on Friday. They auctioned off prizes including autographed footballs signed by all the players from the Minneota 2017 team and the Springfield team. They raised over $1,000 for cancer.

•Teams at the Apple Valley volleyball tournament this weekend include: Burnsville, Albert Lea, Kasson-Mantorville, Legacy Christian Academy, Patrick Henry, Minneota, Osseo, Washburn, Winona Senior, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Clayton, WI, Minneapolis Southwest, Pequot Lakes, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton and Grand Meadow.

•Southwest Minnesota State University lost 20-6 to Wayne State last week. The Mustangs, (2-4, 0-2 NSIC South) plays its second straight Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division road game on Saturday, Oct. 14, facing Augustana University (2-4, 0-2 NSIC South) in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with kickoff set for 1 p.m. at Kirkeby-Over Stadium.

•SMSU will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak since defeating Minot State on Sept. 16 and will also be looking to snap a three-game losing skid versus Augustana dating to 2014.

• At the University of Minnesota-Morris, Allison Bot is having a good season on the women’s golf team.

•At Dakota Wesleyn College in Mitchell, SD, Austin Buysse is a senior quarterback. Also, Meghan Travis of Minneota is on the girls’ basketball and track and field teams.

J. Robinson

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