Robin McKnight fuels her passion for basketball sitting behind the mic
This is the third installment of articles I have written about the sports broadcasters on 560 KMON. This interview is with Robin McKnight and is the transcription of the conversation we had about her sports history.
Robin: I played basketball in the 80s for the mighty Augusta Elks. At that time the kids from Lincoln drove to school in Augusta so the bus ran over Rogers Pass daily and picked up us country kids on the way. I drove about 16 miles to meet the bus and then went an additional 25 or so to school. When I was in the season of basketball, I boarded over in Augusta so I could attend the weekly practices because we didn't have anything like an activity bus at that time. We had great athletes and I absolutely loved basketball and we were totally committed. The District 8-C was our jam and the Elks were always in the mix. My favorite coach was Wayne Stiffler. I respected him immensely and hopefully picked up some tips from him. Our family rodeoed, so that was my second sport. I ran barrels, breakaway goat tied and pole bended. After qualifying in barrel racing at the National High School Rodeo finals, I applied for and received a rodeo scholarship that helped pay for my secondary schooling.
Robin: My first coaching job was for the junior high boys program at Cascade. I joined Chip Tudor, who previously coached AA Great Falls and he was instrumental in helping Stepman win the state championship in Cascade for the boys program. So I was off to a good start. I later switched to the girls side and joined Roger Hatler. Roger Hatler with the high school girls program. Hatler had a great knowledge of the game with tons of experience in the AA and C levels, so I absorbed all I could from him. We had several great years at Cascade together and then went on to coach at the University of Great Falls, now Providence. The Argos had just gotten back into the basketball program after a long hiatus, so we were able to bring them up towards the top of the Frontier rankings. It was a great ride. We thought about retirement from coaching, but then I was offered another stint in Cascade, asked Hatler to join me. So after a few more years, a state run or two and a student athlete getting a basketball scholarship at a D-II level, we decided to retire from coaching. That's about my second or third retirement from coaching and I think Hatler's fifth or so. It's truly in my blood.
Robin: Fast forward to my schedule as a real estate agent and grabbing a quick lunch between appointments. I pop into a Chinese restaurant and run into Randy Bogden. We visit about basketball and he asked if I miss it. Absolutely, is my response, and he asked if I would like to broadcast. Randy says he'll give me a call. Next thing I know, I'm working color at the tournament. No sense breaking me in slowly. Let's just go for it. I adore Randy and appreciate him taking me under his wing. He's the best mentor I could have asked for and make a great team. He continues to teach me how to paint the listeners a picture of the game and atmosphere, whether it's a blowout or a knuckle bitter. Randy and I want to entertain our listeners until the very end. I just want everyone to remember it's all about the kids. They put in a lot of blood, sweat, and tears and time, and we want to make sure they're rewarded for all of their work. We appreciate the coaches and parents that get them to practices and games. We know that kids grow up fast, and we need to take good care of them along the way.
What are some of the biggest changes you've seen in the sport?
Robin: One of the biggest changes would be the addition of the three point shot. Obviously, it seems like there was a lot more post play when we played and coaching in my earlier years, and that has really opened up the outside, and sometimes the post play gets left in the dust. But I have always tried to incorporate that in all of my coaching techniques. As a matter of fact, the gal that got the scholarship in the D-II school, she was a post player, and we took great pride in producing such a great player.
Robin: I think the Class C is one of the most amazing levels of basketball you can be involved in. The student athletes are involved in sports and other organizations. Plus, a lot of them have to travel a great distance to get to school and have other commitments that make it perhaps a little harder for them to attend practices and such. And I feel like their level of commitment is over the top.
Any little fun facts that people may not know about you.
Robin: Craziest coaching moment was when I was coaching a summer tournament in Cascade and the gym was super hot so we had all the exterior doors open. Next thing I know we have an additional player on the court..... it just happens to be my dog Ripley. The refs stop play and ask if the owner can get their dog. I called her to our bench and she got to hang out for the rest of the half with the team. FYI-We won the game
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