CHESHIRE — The Hoosac Valley basketball program named Mike Larabee the successor to longtime coach Bill Robinson on Tuesday.
Larabee served as an assistant under Robinson for the last 13 seasons. Robinson stepped down in July after 25 seasons as head coach of the Hurricanes. After stepping down, Robinson told The Eagle he wanted to spend more time watching his daughters McKenzie and Riley play basketball. For Larabee, taking command of the program wasn't something he envisioned initially, but once the position came open, he knew he wanted it.
"I didn't want to coach anywhere but Hoosac," Larabee said. "The job opened up and I wanted it."
Larabee was selected as the candidate by a six-member committee of school administrators, community members and coaches according to a press release from athletic director Mike Henault. Larabee said his familiarity with the players and Robinson's system played a big part in him landing the job.
"I won't change a thing," Larabee said. "[Robinson] is as good as there is. Why would I want to change anything? ... The continuity is something we pass down to the youth programs."
The continuity and familiarity is something the current Hoosac players appreciate. Senior guard J.P. Levesque said having a relationship with Larabee should help the transition.
"It's nice to have somebody that knows you personally," Levesque said in a phone interview Tuesday. "I had him as a coach since fifth grade. I have a good relationship with him and he connects well with a lot of the younger guys below us. He knows the system and has experience coaching."
Robinson won four Western Massachusetts titles as head coach and, while he will no longer be leading the program, Larabee hopes to benefit from Robinson's knowledge whenever he can.
"I wasn't just coaching underneath him [for 13 seasons], I became really good friends with him," Larabee said. "Hopefully he's up here helping out an awful lot."
Larabee added that he enjoys helping his young players develop.
"It's gratifying to see young kids turn into young men," Larabee said. "That's what I'm all about. I enjoy kids and I enjoy coaching."
For the first time in 25 years, Robinson's colorful personality will not be on the sidelines. Even in his absence, Levesque said he'll always remember the lessons learned from the long-time coach.
"Coach [Robinson] was always very big on saying 'don't be afraid of success,'" Levesque said. "He said that to me when I was a sophomore against Drury [in the Western Mass. semifinals]. He'd say 'don't be afraid to do something great,' and that stuck with me.
"He helped me in basketball and in life. The life lessons were more important than just basketball."
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252