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College Footballl: Robinson gets his second ring

By Mike London

Salisbury Post

Will Robinson doesn’t hold down a glamorous job, but he wouldn’t trade places with Eva Longoria’s chauffeur.

Robinson, an Appalachian State sophomore, is an equipment manager for the Mountaineers’ football team, a workaholic position that has earned the North Rowan graduate a 2005 Division I-AA championship ring.

He’ll add to his ring collection this spring when the Mountaineers hold ceremonies to honor a second straight title run.

“And I hope to be around for another three rings after this one,” Robinson said.

Kids don’t grow up dreaming of managing equipment, and Robinson wasn’t always a manager. He was a fine offensive lineman at North and made all-county his senior year.

Robinson headed to Boone with hopes of wearing the black and gold of the Mountaineers and joined a multitude of candidates for walk-on tryouts.

“I knew when I tried out it was a long-shot because I’m not quite big enough,” said Robinson, 5-foot-11, 240 pounds during his playing days at North. “I just wanted to try my very best, and I did that, but they only kept four of us.”

When a door closes, a window usually opens elsewhere.

Football is a huge chunk of Robinson’s life. Coaching is his dream career, so he was knocking on Appalachian head man Jerry Moore’s door not long after his unsuccessful tryout.

“I went to the football office and asked what could I do to help the football team,” Robinson said. “I told them I’d be willing to help in any way possible. They sent me to see John Welch, the equipment manager.”

Welch is now Robinson’s boss, and he keeps the former Cavalier busy issuing helmets, pads and cleats.

“If they need it, we supply it,” Robinson said. “If something needs repairing, we repair it.”

Saturday gamedays are, as Robinson puts it, “a whole day’s work.”

Robinson helps set up the field, makes sure the uniforms are laid out neatly and makes certain the headsets the coaches use for communicating are functioning properly.

Games are the best of times for Robinson, as he’s pretty much on his own, with the best seat in the house, unless there’s an emergency equipment repair to perform.

“It’s fun down on the sideline, and that’s also when I get a lot of my education,” Robinson said. “Just being around the coaches and picking up little things.”

The daily practice routine is also an important opportunity for Robinson. He’s essentially a ballboy, snapping and spotting — but all the while he’s absorbing knowledge from the coaching staff.

“During practice, the coaches are always teaching,” Robinson said. “Just listening, I’ve learned our offense.”

Road trips are the biggest challenge. Lots of packing and unpacking of the equipment crew’s truck and adhering to a rigid schedule.

“Definitely, the best trips I’ve taken have been the two to Chattanooga for the championships,” Robinson said. “Usually, you’re leaving on the day of the game and it’s real hectic, but we got to Chattanooga 21/2 days before the game and had a chance to see the city and relax a little.”

When the Mountaineers beat Massachusetts last month for their second title, Robinson felt as much a part of the championship as the players and coaches.

“That kind of joy and that atmosphere were things that are hard to describe,” he said. “It was just a great experience.”

Made even better by the folks back home getting to see him on TV roaming the sidelines — “Hey, there’s Will, there’s Will!” — when they held a Super Bowl party to support the Mountaineers.

At last year’s ring ceremony, the chancellor and athletics director spoke and a film entitled, “Go for 2” was shown.

Robinson is looking forward to this year’s speeches, the sequel to the film and hearing his name called out to receive another ring.

All in all, things worked out well for a guy who turned a temporary setback into something positive.

“Sure, there was some disappointment when I didn’t make the football team, but I realize now it opened up something new and something better for me,” Robinson said.

“Getting to go on all the road trips is better than If I had just made the scout team. It’s better, a lot better.”

*

Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or mlondon@salisburypost.com

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