By Kim Staudinger
A typical day for Havre High athlete Scott Robinson begins with morning basketball practice at 5:45 a.m. and ends about 6:30 p.m. after swimming practice.
Robinson, 15 and a high school freshman, said he typically wakes up about 5 a.m. so he has enough time to put his contacts in and eat breakfast before heading to basketball practice, which lasts until 7:30. After basketball, he comes home to take a shower and heads off to school.
After a school day filled with some tough classes, Robinson's day is only about half over. He then continues on to swimming practice until 6:15 or 6:30. After swim practice he comes home to eat dinner, do his homework and then is off to bed about 9.
It may sound like a lot of work to some, but for Robinson, it is something he loves and something he wants to enjoy before the time comes where he may have to choose between swimming and basketball.
Robinson admitted to thinking about only playing basketball this year, but said his true passion for swimming convinced him to do both.
"I like both sports a lot and couldn't choose between them," he said. "So I did both to see which one I liked best. I thought of doing only basketball, but then I remembered how much I like swimming and I wanted to see how high school swimming was. I really want to keep doing both. It's a lot of work, but I really enjoy it."
Robinson's freshman basketball coach, Dustin Kraske, said he worries about Robinson "running himself into the ground" by doing so much, but mentioned they talk a lot in hopes of preventing burnout.
"It's neat that he has the capabilities to do that," Kraske said about Robinson participating in two sports at the same time. "He's a great example of how coaches can work together for the betterment of athletes."
Havre swim coach Chris O'Donnell, who has coached Robinson since he was 7 years old as a swimmer on the Lions team, said Robinson is an incredible kid who never complains and never seems to tire even after the long days he puts in.
"He doesn't seem to be tired at practice," she said. "And if he is, he never makes an excuse. He's dedicated. He likes to do both sports and excels in both sports. He might be dog tired, but he still works hard."
Robinson said that on some days he is really tired but, "I keep pushing myself to try to get better."
While Robinson is not your typical high school freshman by participating in two sports at the same time, he has other qualities that make him special. Kraske mentioned something that took place nearly two weeks ago when the Blue Ponies traveled to Great Falls High to take on the Bison. Kraske said he took some of his freshmen and some sophomores out to eat before the varsity game. He said Robinson stayed back on the bus, while the others were rushing off, and waited for everyone else to get off just so he could thank the bus driver for taking them to eat.
It's not just things like thanking bus drivers that teammates emulate in Robinson. Both of his coaches said he adds more to their teams than just being a great athlete.
"Just his presence in practice," O'Donnell said. "Everybody swims harder because of him. He's added a whole new dimension to the team."
Said Kraske: "He doesn't say much. He's so quiet, but he leads by example. When he gets on the floor after a loose ball, the others do, too."
According to an unofficial tally, Robinson had 15 points, eight rebounds, six steals and six assists in Havre's Dec. 21 100-44 win over Lewistown's freshman team.
And thanks in part to a stellar first swim meet in Kalispell on Dec. 1, Robinson will be able to spend a little more time on the basketball court. Robinson's times were so good at his first meet that he needed only that one meet to qualify for the state meet Feb. 1-2 in Missoula. Robinson, who wanted to qualify for state at the Kalispell meet, finished the 50-freestyle event in second place with a time of 24.34 and was third in the 100-free with a 55:03.
"It made me feel pretty good about myself," Robinson said about qualifying for state in his first high school meet. He also said the times needed to qualify seemed slow to him.
Currently Robinson sits fifth overall in the state in the 50-yard freestyle and 10th overall in the 100 freestyle. The overall standings are based on swimmers from all classes, not just Class A.
While most 15-year-old kids are excited to get their driver's licenses, Robinson chose swimming over driver's education this summer. Robinson was one of three Havre swimmers who qualified to swim at the Western Zone Swim Championships in Maui, Hawaii. Robinson said he might only have one chance to go to Hawaii and, with swim practice two times a day, driver's education had to be put on hold. Robinson placed 20th in the 100 breaststroke and 21st in the 50 freestyle in Hawaii.
Since he has qualified for the state swim meet, Robinson said he is putting basketball first when the two schedules conflict. He will have to miss only two basketball games this season due to the state swim meet. Basketball had not yet started when he swam in the Kalispell and Havre meets.
Swimming has not always been a love of Robinson's though. O'Donnell recalls troubles Robinson had when he took up swimming.
"When he first started to swim he was afraid of the water and afraid to put his face in the water and now look at him," she said. "He has made great strides since he first started at age 7."
Said Robinson: "I was afraid of the water since I was 3, so (starting to swim) was a pretty big jump for me. I wanted to be like my brother since he was a swimmer. The first day (in the water) was game day, so it was fun."
Aside from his athletic accomplishments, Robinson also excels in the classroom. Taking some classes sophomores or upperclassmen usually take, Robinson said, he has five A's and one B.
For some athletes the success that Robinson has had so early could easily make one overconfident or cocky, but that's another area where Robinson is different.
"He brings himself to practice every day," Kraske said. "He's a very hard worker and he always works as hard as he can. He's a just real special person."