For Woodlake High's Leo Robinson, a legendary football coaching figure in the CIF Central Section who died on Sunday in Fresno at age 67, there's no doubt he was hanging in there partly to get to No. 300.
Robinson began the 2002 season in the midst of a battle against cancer and continued in his role as Woodlake's football coach, a role he'd had for 42 years. His health forced him to coach primarily from a golf cart, but there was very little mention of retirement.
On Oct. 18, Woodlake defeated Orosi, 36-0, which gave Robinson his 290th win. It wasn't No. 300, but it was historical because it moved him into third-place on the all-time California career win list. The Tigers' coach was able to enjoy that one, but unfortunately it proved to be his final win.
On Oct. 21, just three days later, Robinson suffered a massive stroke. He went into a coma and never regained consciousness.
"Leo is an icon, and he always will be," Woodlake athletic director Frank Ainley told the Visalia Times-Delta. "He's a big, big part of Woodlake football and part of the school and the community. He always will be a big part of it."
Woodlake played two more games while Robinson was still alive. The Tigers lost 28-22 in overtime to Lindsay and fell 21-13 to Delano. The players did their best, but said their coach was always on their minds.
Robinson is survived by his wife, Mary Lou, in additions to sons Ron and Randy and daughters Diane and Debbie. Ron and Randy were two of the best players Robinson ever had at Woodlake and the coach did get to enjoy the thrill of watching Ron pitch in the major leagues for many years with the Cincinnati Reds.
Another top player Robinson coached was Ruben Rodriguez, who later played in the NFL as a punter, mostly with the Seattle Seahawks.
In honor of Robinson, we decided to update our all-time state list of coaches with the most varsity career wins. Coach, you'll be an icon to many more people outside of Woodlake, too.
Most All-Time Wins (Varsity Only)
(Compiled as of Nov. 3, 2002 in honor of Woodlake High's Leo Robinson)
333 — Herb Meyer, Oceanside, 1959-1975 & Oceanside El Camino, 1976-2002 (141 losses, 14 ties) (current)
318 — Marijon Ancich, Santa Fe Springs St. Paul, 1961-1981, 1993-2002 & Tustin, 1984-1992 (114 losses, 10 ties) (current)
290 — Leo Robinson, Woodlake, 1962-2002 (129 losses, 11 ties)
289 — Gene Vollnogle, Wilmington Banning, 1957-1962 & Carson, 1963-1990 (73 losses, 1 tie)
269 — Benny Pierce, Saratoga, 1961-1994 (84 losses, 4 ties)
269 — Bob Ladouceur, Concord De La Salle, 1979-2002 (14 losses, 1 tie) (current)
265 — Gary Campbell, Banning, 1969 & Norco, 1970-2002 (111 losses, 4 ties) (current)
259 — Larry Welsh, Gonzales, 1966-1975 & Atascadero, 1979-1996 (56 losses, 9 ties)
246 — Steve Grady, L.A. Loyola, 1976-2002 (69 losses, 6 ties) (current)
243 — Dwayne DeSpain, Hacienda Heights Los Altos, 1967-1996 (94 losses, 10 ties)
241 — Bennie Edens, San Diego Point Loma, 1955-1997 (168 losses, 16 ties)
234 — Don Markham, Sepulveda L.A. Baptist, 1970-72 & Colton, 1973-1983 & La Puente Bishop Amat, 1984 & Riverside Ramona, 1986-88 & Bloomington, 1994-97, 2002 & Lawndale Leuzinger, 1999 & Rialto, 2000-01 (72 losses, 1 tie) (current at Bloomington)
233 — Ron Calcagno, Mountain View St. Francis, 1972-1995 (59 losses, 3 ties)
232 — Dick Bruich, Fontana, 1977-1998 & Fontana Kaiser, 2000-2002 (65 losses, 3 ties) (current) 228 — John Shacklett, San Diego Morse, 1971-2002 (118 losses, 9 ties) (current)
225 — Jim Blewett, Fresno, 1921-25 & L.A. Manual Arts, 1926-1938, 1941, 1947-1963 (70 losses, 16 ties)
225 — Tim Simons, Lennox & Fresno Roosevelt & Clovis, 1975-1999 (70 losses, 7 ties)
224 — Wayne Schneider, Tracy, 1965-1972, 1977-1994 (59 losses, 5 ties)
222 —Al Cementina, San Jose Lick, 1954-1975 & San Jose Independence, 1976-1988 (91 losses, 9 ties)
220 — Ned Permenter, Bakersfield Foothill, 1965-2001 (220-157-9)
Bob Ladouceur of De La Salle only needs one more win to move into the top five on the all-time state list.
Dick Bruich has already passed four so far this season and should pass two more the way his team at Kaiser has been playing.
Dick Haines finished 194-85-1 at Vista (1970-1994), but his career record including West Virginia and Ohio was 320-126-12 (43 years).
Don Markham is 278-82-1 includung five Oregon seasons of 1990-93 & 1998 (30 years).
Paul Briggs was 209-99-12 at Bakersfield (1953-1985), but 240-106-12 including Colorado and Wyoming seasons (37 years).