RICHMOND, Va. – It appears that Robyn Hobson’s enthusiasm is matched only by her confidence, which is why when she says she wants to change the world, it’s okay to believe the VCU senior has the chops to do it.
That doesn’t mean that the road to a better world is an expressway. Sometimes the storm washes out the bridge, as Hobson learned recently. Sometimes you need to row across the river.
Last summer, Hobson, a four-year letterwinner for the VCU Women’s Basketball team who will graduate in May with a degree in Elementary Education, decided to put together her own girls’ basketball camp in her transplanted hometown of Charlotte, N.C. Hobson’s mother helped her organize the three-day camp for 15 girls ages 6-12 at a local gym.
“I just felt like I really wanted to give back,” Hobson, 21, said. “I felt like Charlotte didn’t really have a girls’ basketball program. I felt like it was a great opportunity to test it out and see how it went, and it went great.
But it didn’t start great. Hobson, aided by her younger brother and one of his high school teammates, meticulously plotted the first day’s events. Things did not go as planned.
“The first day, I almost had a breakdown,” Hobson says with a laugh. “I had these whole schedules, laminated. I could’ve just thrown them in the trash.”
Neither her major nor the years of playing college basketball, prepared her for the unpredictability and fickleness of children. It was a trial by fire. But after a pep talk from her mother, Hobson recovered and rolled with the punches.
“I just really had to go back to square one and go, okay, let me break it down for them to where they can understand,” she said. “But that was the most difficult thing was teaching them and figuring out what was going to work for them.”
It was an important, “coachable” moment for Hobson; pushing the right buttons, figuring out what works. They’re qualities she’ll likely be calling on again soon.
Hobson was recently selected to participate in the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) “So You Want to be a Coach” program, which will take place April 5-7 at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in New Orleans. The program seeks to identify college basketball players interested in a career in coaching and give them the tools to be successful. The three-day event is packed with seminars on recruiting, hiring staff, dealing with compliance issues, negotiating the interview process, dealing with parents, balancing work and life, and everything in between.
Participants in the WBCA are nominated by their head coaches and have to pass a stringent series of applications. Coach Marlene Stollings has only been at the reins of the VCU program for one year, but she was immediately impressed with Hobson’s potential.
“She’s very talented and very intellectual and presented a very good package,” Stollings said.
Although the “So You Want to be a Coach” program is only a few years old, it’s already been well-received in the coaching community, Stollings says.
“I’ve talked to many people that have gone through the program, and I think what they get out of if, when they leave there, most of them have a pretty solid initial feel as to whether or not they wanted to go into the business or not,” she said. “There are really no negatives about the program in general. She’s only going to learn from it regardless of where her career path might take her.”
Hobson had considered coaching after college, but Stollings’ nomination was an opportunity that caught her off-guard.
“When she came to me at first, I was like, wow. I had to go home and do some research,” said Hobson, a 5-foot-9 guard who averaged 2.4 points per game this season. “In a minute it turned into, this is what I want to do. She really opened up my eyes to see that, one, I can do it, and it’s something that I want to do.”
Hobson was one of just 50 applicants selected for the prestigious event this year, which she hopes is head-start to a successful foray into coaching.
“I’m nervous,” she admits. “My main thing is that I want to learn everything I can. I want to absorb as much of the information as I can and do something with it. I don’t just want to go and say I went. I want to go and I want to use everything that I’ve learned. I hope I get the opportunity out of it to be a coach.”
She can also use the experience to help her this summer, when the Robyn Hobson Girls Basketball Camp opens shop for a second straight year. Hobson hasn’t let one tough day dent her confidence. This year, the camp will add a section session.
“My main thing is whatever I’m going to do, to be excellent at it, and I think this is a way to be an excellent coach, to go through a program like this,” she said.