Skyhawk Baseball | Rick Robinson - Head Coach
Rick Robinson is in his third season as UT Martin head baseball coach in 2017. He was announced as the 10th head baseball coach in program history on June 3, 2014.
Last season, Robinson oversaw the most wins (19) the program had produced since 2011. UT Martin also notched nine Ohio Valley Conference victories for the second straight season, as the Skyhawks have now tied the most OVC wins in a two-year span in school history.
The 2016 Skyhawks set a new school record for walks drawn (231) and pitching strikeouts (369). UT Martin also posted the most runs scored (340), hits (554), doubles (106) and RBI's (318) since 2010 while generating a .962 fielding percentage - the fourth-highest mark in program history.
UT Martin won or split seven series last season against a schedule that included three teams who were ranked in the top-six in the nation in 2016. The Skyhawks' nonconference sweep over Jackson State on April 22-24 was the program's first three-game sweep since Feb. 23-24, 2013 against IPFW. UT Martin also tossed its first OVC shutout since 2008 (a 2-0 win against Eastern Illinois on May 14) and banged out its most runs in an OVC game since 2009 (a 20-6 victory over Eastern Kentucky on April 8).
Robinson's debut season as a Skyhawk brought along several positives. UT Martin compiled 17 wins (the most for the program since 2011) and nine OVC victories in 2015. The nine OVC wins are just one shy of the all-time program record.
UT Martin showed significant improvement as the 2015 season went on, notching 13 of its 17 victories after late March. The Skyhawks posted a four-game winning streak for the second time since 2012 to begin that span and took three OVC series in that stretch. UT Martin knocked off then-league leader Belmont (March 27-29), won the OVC season series over Austin Peay for the first time since 1993 (May 1-3) and also won a road series at Eastern Illinois (May 8-10) for the first time since 2004.
The Skyhawks also posted one of their most impressive victories in recent memory on April 7, defeating No. 15 Missouri State by a 6-2 margin. That marked the program’s first win over a ranked opponent since April 10, 2009. Despite the series loss, UT Martin played the Bears even on the scoreboard in the three-game series, holding its own against a Missouri State team that won 49 games and entered the NCAA Regionals as the No. 8 overall national seed.
Robinson boasts 19 years of head coaching experience, including a 16-year stretch transforming Young Harris College into a junior college and NCAA Division-II powerhouse. Robinson sports a 716-316 career head coaching record (.694 winning percentage) and boasts four 50-win seasons, eight conference championships, five Region XVII championships and one NJCAA World Series appearance.
Robinson averaged 49.3 wins per season from 2002-08 in the junior college ranks before Young Harris transitioned into a four-year baccalaureate school competing in Division-II in 2011. The transition did not slow down Robinson, as he guided the Mountain Lions to 114 wins over his last four seasons.
A total of 58 players who have played under Robinson have signed professional contracts, including six who made it to the Major League Baseball level. Three of those players are currently on MLB rosters, including 2014 All-Star Charlie Blackmon (Colorado Rockies), two-time Gold Glove winner Nick Markakis (Atlanta Braves) and Cory Gearrin (San Francisco Giants). Robinson has produced 25 MLB Draft selections, including Markakis - who was the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2003 MLB Draft. Blackmon (72nd overall pick in the second round of the 2008 MLB Draft), Gearrin (138th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2007 MLB Draft) and Billy Buckner (55th overall pick in the second round of the 2004 MLB Draft) also were early-round selections that were coached by Robinson.
Robinson has coached a pair of National Players of the Year in Markakis (2003) and Bryson Smith (2009) and also worked with some of the game’s brightest college stars when he served as head coach of the Hiyamis Mets in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 2008.
Robinson began his head coaching career at Brevard College in North Carolina, where he started the first baseball program in school history in 1992. In its inaugural season, Robinson posted a 33-22 overall record and a third place NJCAA Region X finish. A total of eight players from that Brevard team signed professional contracts.
Robinson then took over at Young Harris in 1999 and immediately turned the program into one of the top junior college programs in the nation. His teams went 155-29 over a three-year span (2003-05) that saw the team set school records with 52 victories in both 2003 and 2004. He also led Young Harris to the 2007 NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo. and posted another 50-win campaign in 2008.
Prior to his time at Young Harris, Robinson spent four years as an assistant coach at Old Dominion University, a Division-I school located in Norfolk, Va. During his time at the baseball-rich school, he served as third base coach, camp director and recruiting coordinator.
At Old Dominion, Robinson helped the Monarchs to a pair of conference championships and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Regionals (1995-96). In four recruiting classes, he helped produce 22 players who signed professional contracts, including Tim Hummel (second round pick, 52nd overall by the Chicago White Sox in the 2000 MLB Draft). Robinson also worked with current major leaguers David Wright (New York Mets), Michael Cuddyer (New York Mets), Justin Upton (San Diego Padres) and Melvin Upton, Jr. (San Diego Padres) in Old Dominion’s camps.
Before his appointment at Brevard College, Robinson posted a .672 winning percentage at the high school level in North Carolina. He led West Henderson High School in Hendersonville to its first-ever winning season and first berth in the state playoffs and also had a successful stint at Pisgah High School in Canton.
A Brevard, NC native, Robinson played collegiate baseball at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He earned his degree from Appalachian State and later earned a Master’s degree from Furman University.
Robinson is married to the former Luann DeGroat of Hawley, Pa. The couple has been married for over 20 years and has three teenage children: Faithe, Rhett and Ryan.
What Others Are Saying About Coach Rick Robinson:
“Rick Robinson is an outstanding hire for the UT Martin baseball program. He is an excellent coach and teacher on the diamond and will develop his young men to be well-rounded and successful off the field. Coach Robinson will bring tremendous passion, energy and excitement as he molds Skyhawk baseball into a consistent winner.”
-Ray Tanner, University of South Carolina Athletics Director/Former Head Baseball Coach
“I think a lot of Rick Robinson as a person, mentor, teacher and coach. He is a person of character and represents values that supersede winning baseball games. We who know him are appreciative of UT Martin for giving him this wonderful opportunity to coach and teach baseball at our proud state university.”
-Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt University Head Baseball Coach
“UT Martin has made a phenomenal hire with Rick Robinson. His on-field accomplishments are second to none and the way he molds young men into leaders is just as impressive. Coach Robinson is absolutely deserving of the opportunity to coach Division-I baseball and I am excited to track his progress.”
-Andy Lopez, University of Arizona Head Baseball Coach, Two-time National Champion (2002, 2012)
“Coach Robinson was the first college coach to offer me a scholarship and an opportunity to play college baseball. I had the opportunity to be teammates with a group of men that grew together under the guidance of the most influential coach in my life. I am currently the only player on my team with a college degree and I credit Coach Robinson for turning me into the type of person that goes back to complete a commitment to school even after reaching the big leagues. I have never seen someone manage a baseball game on the level at which Coach Robinson could – he knew exactly how to deal with different personalities and always get the best from his players. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be a better husband, father and fellow man thanks to the values and morals I learned as part of Coach Robinson’s program.”
-Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies outfielder/2014 MLB All-Star and Young Harris baseball alum (2004-06)
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