Etowah cross-country families rally to support beloved coach.
If you’ve ever seen students from Etowah High School running along Towne Lake Parkway (known as the TLP), then you know training for the cross-country season probably has started. You probably also saw one of the coaches running with the student athletes — a man known around Towne Lake as Coach Joe.
Joe Robinson started running when he was in high school. His coach required athletes to be involved in other sports during the off-season. Wrestling was his main sport, and since Robinson was told he was too small to play football, he decided to run cross-country and track.
He started coaching in 1988 in the Etowah school district as a youth track coach. His children participated in the sport, and he wanted to do something that would keep him involved in their activities.
During his first year of coaching the Etowah High School team, half the kids quit because of his work ethic and expectations — most likely shaped by his time as an officer in the U.S. Marines. However, as time went on, students and parents got to know Coach Joe on a more personal level. His dedication and hard work became contagious, and the Etowah cross-country team flourished.
In recent years, Coach Joe has had to give up running. After participating in numerous marathons and races, he no longer is able to run, because of severe nerve pain. That doesn’t stop him from encouraging student runners, sharing his bright smile, and, of course, his faith. His father and older brother were preachers, and he gives them credit for being big influences in his life. Parents and students have fond memories of Coach Joe boldly sharing his faith.
“Such a beautiful memory before each race, you leading the team in the Lord’s Prayer!” — Katherine Amick
Recently, a Facebook group was started to support and encourage Coach Joe as he prepares to have surgery to help relieve his chronic pain. Current students, parents and former athletes gathered for a drive-by parade to show Coach Joe how much he means to them and the community. He responded to everyone on Facebook:
“Wow! I cannot find the words to express the love and support I feel. Thank you so very much! I am the one that feels blessed to be a part of such a great program!” — Coach Joe
We wish Coach Joe all the best, and hope to see him out doing what he loves best: encouraging student runners to be their best, and sharing God’s love.
Gayla Burks says
Not only did and does Joe make a huge impact on his athletes, but their entire families. I am blessed to have him be a part of my family’s lives. We all love you more than you will ever know Joe!
Nancy ford says
Coach joe inspired everyone. My son went on to be a teacher and cross country coach after Joe’s inspiration. Such a great man. He always gave everything to his team. Get well soon