10th of an 11-Part Series introducing the HOF Class of 2019
By BILL PLOTT
For nearly an amazing half century, John Irvin Robertson has served as an Alabama high school sports contest official.
His important contributions have not gone unnoticed. Robertson was selected to be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2019. The induction banquet will be held at the Montgomery Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center on March 18 at 6:30 p.m. A press conference to meet all the inductees will be at 5:30 p.m., at the Renaissance. Both events will be live-streamed over the NFHS Network by the Goshen High School NFHS Network School Broadcast Program with Stephanie Snyder as executive producer.
A native of Montgomery, Robertson graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1965. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Auburn University in 1969.
He began his career as an official in 1971, starting with basketball, which he continued until 1999. Robertson officiated 17 of 18 state tournaments from 1982-99. A year later, he added football and baseball. He also worked both indoor and outdoor state track meets for many years. He was awarded a Lifetime Honorary Membership in the Mid-State Officials Association in 1987 and received an AHSAA Distinguished Service Award in 2008.
Robertson has spent the last 30 years serving the AHSAA in various off-the-court training and mentoring roles. In 1981, he became a state rules clinician and has been a regional tournament officials’ coordinator since the inception of the regional tournament format in 1994. Robertson has also served as South-Central District Director for basketball since 1999. In 2008, he added duties as the State Basketball Rules Interpreter and State Basketball Camp Director.
In a letter of recommendation, former AHSAA Director of Officials Greg Brewer wrote: “Johnny has worked with the AHSAA as a football and basketball official for 30-plus years. He has been assigned to and officiated numerous championship contests. Johnny has also served on the AHSAAA officiating staff for years as a clinician, state rules interpreter, camp instructor and district director. He has helped assign and coordinate the officials at the basketball state tournament for a number of years. Johnny has been an integral part of the AHSAA as a volunteer helping us in the administration of several other events including the all-star events.”
Brewer said Robertson’s love of sports and its ability to mold young people has been evident in involvement in officiating – from calling games to training officials. He credits Robertson for making a major difference in the quality of officiating in Alabama.
“Johnny is an outstanding citizen and is cherished for working with the children of this state as well as the adults who work with the children. He has never failed to help the AHSAA when asked, and we hope he will be around for a long time to come.”
Steve Bailey, of the Central Alabama Sports Commission, described Robertson as a man who “truly exhibits a servant’s heart.” He added: “I have known Johnny for over 20 years, having worked with him mainly in my time as Director of the Athletic Directors & Coaches Association of the AHSAA. During those years, He was involved in observing, training and evaluating officials during regional and state tournaments. Johnny has been an official in the sports of football and basketball for over 30 years and appeared in numerous state championship games. Many young and upcoming officials have benefitted from his knowledge and dedication, and he has always acted in a professional, dedicated and caring manner”
Bailey also praised Robertson’s community involvement.
“Johnny has also been overly dedicated to the youth of our state and local areas. He is a member of the Montgomery Kiwanis Club and has been instrumental in supporting basketball players during the All-Star Sports Week in Montgomery. During one particular year, he led the way in acquiring a $5,000 grant to provide meals and gifts for the student-athletes to make their all-star experience one to remember.”
Calhoun County Commissioner Don Hudson, who officiated with Robertson for more than 30 years, treasured his time on and off the court with his friend.
“I have known Johnny for 35 years as a fellow official, as a rules clinician, district director and personal friend,” he said. “I have the highest respect for him as leader, a listener, an expert and providing a shoulder to lean on in our field of officiating. He is dedicated to the purpose of making every official in the state a better official. He is conscientious and has worked tirelessly in an effort to making officiating in the state the very best. Johnny was also an outstanding official, and he has the ability to bring out the best in us. I am extremely proud to recommend Johnny for the Hall of Fame. It is my opinion there is no one more deserving.”
Former Selma Mayor George P. Evans, who also officiated with Robertson, said, “I have known and worked with Johnny Robertson in many programs and athletics activities over the past 25 years. He is a very dependable and solid man when it comes to successfully getting the job done. Johnny has been involved in just about every level of athletics. His involvement with officiating and evaluating officials for the personal improvement is impeccable.”
Robertson has served his community in a number of other worthwhile civic and charitable endeavors. He is past president of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the River Region, past president of the Montgomery Estate Planning Council, past president of the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, past president of the Kiwanis Club of Montgomery with 28 years of perfect attendance, and past president of the Mid-State Football Officials Association.
He served as Kiwanis lieutenant governor for three years and is active in the First United Methodist Church. He also coached Dixie Youth baseball and YMCA basketball. He has been a Boys and Girls Club board member since 1998 and is currently chairman of the group’s golf tournament.
COMING SATURDAY: Installment 11 – Coach R.G. Cook, Bullock County High School
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