Chuck Robinson, Gar-Field's activities director for 11 years, has announced his retirement effective at the end of June, ending a 29-year association with the school.
"I've heard from plenty of people who have retired that you'll know when it's time, and it's time," said Robinson, 57, the Indians' former football coach, who has not ruled out returning to the sidelines as an assistant coach at some point. "I've had a wonderful career and been truly blessed."
Becoming an AD was never part of the plan, Robinson said, but the fact that he did held special meaning for him. Robinson's parents both died when he was in high school in Hollywood, Fla., and the athletic director at the time, Lou Morrelli, helped fill the void in Robinson's life by standing up for him in an eligibility appeal, hiring him to do chores around the house and encouraging him to go to college.
"He taught me that you can reach out to people, but they can still keep their dignity," Robinson said. "He instilled in me a self-confidence I didn't have. Somewhere along in my career, I hope I've had that kind of positive influence on some young person's life."
Robinson was an assistant football coach on the 1990 Gar-Field team that won a state title. During his tenure as AD, the school's baseball, softball, girls' basketball and girls' track programs all won state titles, as did the school's cheerleaders and thespians.
"As AD, you're supposed to be a representative of all the programs," Robinson said. "The diversification of the state championships is what gives me the most pride."
Despite lingering sogginess and recent pessimistic predictions about when fields would be dry enough to play on, the spring sports regular season is scheduled to start on time for most Prince William area teams this week.
"Two weeks ago, I didn't think we were going to get on the field until April," said Osbourn Park baseball coach Rod Hodgson, whose team is set to host Hylton on Tuesday. "We're not going to be ready as far as having everything in that we want -- defensively, especially -- but we've kept our arms in good shape and gotten swings in, and we're conditioned. I guess we're going to be coaching on the field early on."
First-year Gar-Field baseball coach Jay Burkhart also thought at one time that he and his team would be stuck in the gym or on the school parking lot until late March. Instead, the Indians have been practicing on their field.
"A couple of times the rain helped us out as far as melting big piles of snow," said Burkhart, whose team opens Tuesday at Potomac. "A couple of hot days helped and our field drains really well."
First-year Forest Park softball coach Richard Hilleary said his team also should be able to play its opener Tuesday, a home game against Virginia AAA state runner-up Stonewall Jackson.
"Right now our field needs a little work, and hopefully we'll get that squared away between now and Tuesday," said Hilleary, who took over the program from Lane Byrd, now a junior varsity coach at Massaponax. "We should be able to play."