Athlete Spotlight : Hoosac Valley's Riley Robinson
Riley Robinson took a blow to the head two weeks ago, but her return to the WPI floor just minutes later keyed a Hoosac Valley rally that resulted in the MIAA Division III state championship. After celebrating with her teammates, family and friends, the junior guard came by The Berkshire Eagle offices to show off some hardware and chat about how the Hurricanes overcame Saint Mary's to take home the title. Robinson also discusses the rivalries within the Hoosac program, within her family, how her bracket is looking and what her plans are for springtime in the Berkshires.
THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE: Now that we're a couple weeks removed from the state championship, what's the coolest thing that's happened since?
RILEY ROBINSON: Definitely that night after we won, we got to go through Berkshire County with the fire trucks. That was pretty cool. Getting to go to Town Hall and be honored there was cool, too.
EAGLE: Who was the happiest person you saw after the game?
ROBINSON: Probably my grandma. She was crying at the moment, but I think even afterward she never let it down. She's probably still so excited about it. She was beaming.
EAGLE: What do you remember about your head injury during the second quarter?
ROBINSON: I didn't really know what happened. Everyone thought I hit the ground, but then we later found out it was probably an elbow. I think I was just caught up in the moment. Later we saw a video and it was a pretty good hit. Right after, they gave me the concussion test, and those little strips. It felt like it took forever, but I guess it wasn't that long.
EAGLE: And then what happened after the game?
ROBINSON: They brought me to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester to get six stitches, because they said if I waited more than a few hours, it could get ugly. I was able to get in pretty quick, though, and my team waited for me after the Taconic boys game and came to pick me up at the hospital, so I could ride home with them.
EAGLE: What has it been like the last few years defending Lexi Mercier and Alie Mendel in practice?
ROBINSON: It's very competitive when we have to go up against each other, I'll tell you that. Lot of yelling and clapping and cocky play, because we like to beat up on each other. But I think we all make each other better and work hard when we get to that point of the season, and I think it helped a lot.
EAGLE: You vs. your older sister McKenzie, one-on-one, who wins?
ROBINSON: Definitely me, by far. I would destroy her. She'll say she's retired now or make some excuses. But I'll always beat her.
EAGLE: How is your bracket looking heading into the Sweet 16?
ROBINSON: I'm OK right now, actually. I have UNC winning it all, so I'm hoping. Kind of nervous for [Thursday night].
EAGLE: What's your favorite thing to do in Berkshire County now that spring is here?
ROBINSON: I like to hike The Cobbles in Cheshire. It's not that big of a hike, but it's just nice to get out and get some fresh air with friends.
EAGLE: Who is the toughest girl you had to defend this year?
ROBINSON: I'd say Lexi Garvey at Pittsfield. She's a force out there, rebounds really well and has a few nice post moves. She gave us a battle and beat us once.
EAGLE: Who do you struggle with offensively?
ROBINSON: As a whole, I guess we struggled to score against Wahconah. At Western Mass. we did better, but they were really tough.
EAGLE: What's your dream vacation?
ROBINSON: I'd love to go to Australia. That seemed pretty sick.
EAGLE: What's the best place you have been?
ROBINSON: I went to Scotland and London this past year on a school trip, that was pretty cool.
EAGLE: As you turn toward next year, what do you want to improve?
ROBINSON: Well, this year the focus was defense, but since we're losing two 1,000-point scorers, we're going to have some holes in the offense. So, I'll be working on shooting, creating opportunities for myself and finishing.
EAGLE: What's next for you athletically?
ROBINSON: I play AAU basketball in the spring with the Berkshire Mountaineers. My dad coaches me, so it gets very competitive and tough, but you get to work with the people you get to play with in high school, so it's cool. I think it helps us a lot to get ready for the season, and helps me with my handle for sure.
EAGLE: Where's the coolest place you've gotten to play AAU?
ROBINSON: I played at an AAU tournament at the Hall of Fame, which was pretty nice. You look up and see all the faces. It was nice.
This interview was conducted, edited and condensed by Mike Walsh.
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