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Hall of Fame coach returns at 68

After three years away from coaching basketball, Jimmy Joe Robinson is ready to give it another shot.

The 68-year-old Robinson, who retired from coaching after guiding Melrose to the Class 1A boys state championship in 2001, will be back on the sidelines again next winter — at Clovis Christian School.

“They’ve got some good kids at Clovis Christian, and we’re going to try to get a good program going,” said Robinson, who was inducted New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Honor in 1995. “They’re good kids; they’re fun to coach and they’re real dedicated. It looks to me like it’s going to be a fun year.”

A native of Lovington, Robinson taught and coached in the Clovis school system for more than a quarter-century, capped by 13 years (1971-84) as the Clovis High boys coach. He guided the Wildcats to a Class 4A state championship in 1979.

He coached at Melrose for two stints over a 12-year period, interrupted by a two-year hiatus after knee surgery. He also won state titles at Melrose in 1992 and 1993.

“It was a situation where Jimmy Joe came in and talked to (CCS superintendent Steve) Medeiros (about the position),” said CCS girls coach Max Kralicek, who coached the Clovis Christian boys for five years before switching to the girls program last season. “I think he brings a tremendous amount of experience to the program.”

CCS was coached last season by volunteer Robert Boatman. The Eagles had just eight players on the squad, all sophomores and younger, and finished 5-16.

But they expect everyone back, and with such a young nucleus they’re looking to move forward.

“I think we’re going to have a good season, as long as we stay injury-free and listen to what coach Robinson has to say,” said Ryan Boatman, who led the Eagles in scoring last season and is Robert’s son. “I think he can help us out a lot.”

Robinson plans to take a squad to a team camp at Eastern New Mexico later this month.

“We’re real excited about getting started,” said Boatman, who twisted a knee during a workout but hopes he’s ready to go by the camp.

Clovis Christian is eligible for the state playoffs for the first time this year. The Eagles play in District 4-1A, which includes Logan, Grady and San Jon.

Robinson said the Eagles hope to get their numbers up next season.

“They didn’t win too much last year, but they tried hard,” Robinson said. “They were just real young.

“Our idea is to get better and better every day. I know the team has some rough edges, but I think these kids have a real good heart. They have a good attitude, and they’re hungry.”