Jeremiah Robbins father Bruce died four years ago, a tough loss for anyone.
But a father’s values passed onto a son; things like hard work, honesty and integrity, have been passed onto a baseball team, the Lewis-Clark State Warriors, who now call themselves NAIA National Champions.
Robbins’ dad was a tree faller who, along with his wife Jerilyn, raised 6 kids in the town of Coos Bay Oregon. “He was a huge influence both outside and in,” Robbins said of his dad. “He gave each kid his due and time. He taught me if you put your time in, you will get your reward,” he added.
A national championship is an obvious reward, but Robbins is more interested in instilling values. He sees a changed society from when he grew up; “I wouldn’t want to grow up today,” he said bluntly. Robbins wants to prepare the young men in his care for that changed world. “If you are out drinking every night or skipping class, you are not going to make it,” he said.
Robbins has a kind way about him, but comes across as someone not easily bullsh*tted. His is perhaps the perfect demeanor to take a group of young athletes, some with more than enough ego, and bond them into a team.
The team grew closer over the off season by constructing a new field at the college; the players did everything from leveling the field to laying the sod.
They could have flown to San Diego, but Robbins decided a bus was the best way for the team to travel during the early part of the season. A way to get to know each other, so to speak.
They played Concordia in California, a team that was also in this year’s World Series. The trip had some effect. Concordia’s coach noticed a changed team, “Your players like each other now,” he told Robbins at the series.
Robbins, like his father, spent some years as a logger himself after taking a break from college, where he struggled academically at first. “I loved every minute of it,” he said of the family trade.
Robbins met his wife at junior college and he eventually finished college at Western Oregon, where he played catcher. It is also the place he was coaching before being hired by Lewis-Clark Athletic Director, Gary Picone, to coach here in Lewiston.
His family has adjusted well to the valley. His wife teaches at a local school and their boys ages six and eight, “hit the ground running,” Robbins said and can’t wait for the Aquatic Center to open. Robbins’ family was in the stands along the first base line through-out the World Series. His mom still lives in Oregon near some of his siblings, but he would like to eventually move her to Lewiston.
Robbins obviously has affection for his players as well. There was warmth in his voice when he talked about the leaving seniors, including senior pitcher and World Series Most Valuable Player Beau Kearns.
Robbins has little time to bask in the series glory, he and some assistant coaches are headed to Boise this week to do some scouting. He praised his coaching staff as being very strong recruiters and he relies on their input for decision making.
He likes to get to know his recruits well, and find players he thinks can fit his system and this area of the world. He also spends times with the player’s parents. Once he has recruited a player Robbins doesn’t like to lose them. “You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t buy in or have an attitude it won’t work, “ he said.
Western Oregon was a football school, and despite winning titles, they never had the fan base the Warriors get in the valley.
Robbins enjoys the fan support, but It can come with an increased spot light, that and following esteemed coaches like Ramone Hooker, Ed Chef and Picone can be stressful.
But after winning a National Championship in his third year and with very solid values in place since childhood, Robbins seems more than up for the task.
It is something his father, who also coached his son’s Little League and Babe Ruth team, would be proud of.