Al Robson honored by Iowa track coaches

Al Robson

~courtesy of The Scranton Journal

Al Robson of Scranton brought home three major awards from the Iowa Association of Track Coaches Hall of Fame and Awards banquet held in December 2018. The long-time official was recognized for his many years of service in both cross country and track and field.

Robson was honored as Girls Track and Field State Official of the Year, Middle School / Junior High State Official of the Year and Cross Country State Official of the Year. The awards were presented by the Track Officials Association but were voted on by the track coaches.

Robson got his start as a track and field official after he left teaching and coaching at Kuemper in Carroll in 1982. He has 36 years experience with more to come.

“I only started a few meets until Jefferson-Scranton put in their all-weather track in 1995,” explained Robson. “I helped Bill Mueller of Perry at the J-S meets for a few years and then gradually started getting more meets of my own.”

Robson is well-known to area athletes and their parents as the guy who shoots the gun to the start the races. He typically governs 18-20 meets a year. This spring you will find him at Greene County in Jefferson, Carroll, Perry, South Central Calhoun, Valley, Waukee and Audubon.

Robson also officiated basketball from 1982 until about 2010. “My first basketball partner was Mike Dick (who later when on to become the head of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union),” said Robson. “I also through the years worked with Larry Siebert from Vail and Tom Tipton from Coon Rapids and finally at the end, John Rowland from Jefferson.

“Part of my basketball officiating included the years where the girls transitioned from six on six to five on five,” added Robson. “As far as having a track partner, most meets do not need two starters, but some of the bigger ones do, so in that case, Chad Morton was my partner until he became head boys track coach at Greene County. He and I started so many meets together that we didn’t even need to talk about where the other one was going to be when the races started; we just knew that the partner would be where he needed to be.”

As track fans know, spring weather can be brutal with temperature swings from down right hot to freezing cold when the sun goes down. Robson took the advice from one of his assistant coaches at Kuemper when he told him you can never take enough clothes to a track meet.

“I thought that was good advice then and have followed that advice to this day and have at some meets, needed every bit of clothing I took along,” laughed Robson. “I have always said that on a good weather night in the spring, there is nothing better than being at a track meet, but on the flip side, if the weather is bad, there is nothing worse.

“So, some of the memories include the good weather nights where the athletes’ performances are outstanding,” Robson continued. “But there are also many bad weather nights that are also memorable, such as one that Chad and I did at Manson where it was cold and the wind was so strong that you could hardly stand still to start the race as the wind would blow you over.”

Al remembers two “extra special” performances he was privileged to witness over the years. “One was at a high school meet in Waukee where the Waukee girls shuttle hurdle team set an all-time best record. (The record has since been broken, but still a thrill to see that.)

“The other was at a meet in Jefferson. Bill Mueller was starting it and I was assisting him. It was a warm spring night and strong winds out of the south, so meet management decided to run the 100 meter dash from south to north. This would have been long before Fully Automatic Timing (FAT), so the race was being timed with hand-held watches,” explained Robson. “This night Adam Haluska from Carroll ran the all-time best 100 meter time. Because wind is not a factor in records in Iowa, that time stood and still stands to this day.”

Robson graduated from Scranton High School in 1973 and farms in the Scranton area. His wife Cheryl retired last year from the Ames School District as a media specialist. They are adjusting to being at home – together – every day.

As he approaches retirement age, Robson says he plans to continue this part of his professional career.

“It has been fun and I enjoy starting meets,” concluded Robson. “I have no intentions of retiring any time soon.”

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