Hope Academy’s Dorian Robinson is on The Real Chi’s sports spotlight

The Hyde Park native reflects on the amazing and challenging journey he’s experienced throughout his youth basketball career.  credit Chicago Sun-Time / Worsom Robinson

The Hyde Park native reflects on the amazing and challenging journey he’s experienced throughout his youth basketball career.

credit Chicago Sun-Time / Worsom Robinson

alt text By Isi Ativie, Economic Justice Reporter, The Real Chi

Basketball generally requires athletes with massive strength, enormous height, and mental toughness. It tests the great essence of agility and builds high endurance. Most people would expect a 5 foot 7 inch guard to struggle with adjusting to the hard-nose and gritty Chicago high school basketball style, but Hope Academy point guard Dorian Robinson doesn’t seem to agree with that assumption.

Robinson started his basketball career at the tender age of five, and is enthusiastic to continue his remarkable journey in a higher collegiate atmosphere.  This upcoming Fall semester, he’ll enroll at College Mount Saint Vincent and is ready to take his talents to a NCAA Division Three level. Off the court, he’s also set his ambitions on a bright future that potentially includes a media career. In this Q & A, the 17-year old shared his personal experiences with basketball and academics, as he discusses his journey to becoming a mature young man.  

Q: Why do you play basketball? Give me a specific reason on why you chose this sport.

Dorian: I think it’s nothing but pure love for the game. I love competing and the game takes me out of personal issues that I have to deal with outside of basketball. My little brother and sister look up to me. And I enjoy being a mentor for them. My success will allow them to grow, and influence them to keep going. It will raise them to be the people that they need to be. I definitely just love the game so much.

Q: Give me a little background about your early years.

Dorian: Growing up, I was definitely looked upon as a basketball player by my father. I guess my dad always saw me doing something that was related to the game at an early age. As a little baby, I would always try to shoot a ball whenever I was around a little hoop. My father has been really hard on me growing up but he turned me into the player that I am today. I continued to play the game very well around seventh and eighth grade, including high school. I struggled during my sophomore year on the junior varsity team, because I was benched for most of the games that we played. So I transferred my junior year to Hope Academy.

Q: Did you go to Hope Academy for mostly basketball or just academics?

Dorian: I think Hope gave me a second opportunity to play basketball, but the spiritual aspect of the school attracted me. I got a chance to reunite with one of my early childhood coaches. He’s very supportive, so that’s why I decided to make that move to transfer.  

Q: So transferring from Kenwood to Hope Academy was like a second chance for you?

Dorian: Oh yeah. Hope has been like a second home to me. I definitely have a lot of love for the school. The people have always been so welcoming to me.

Q: What’s the difference between Kenwood and Hope?

Dorian: There’s a huge difference. Hope is a private school, and Kenwood is a public school. Hope is a lot more strict, Kenwood is a little loose.

Q: What other challenges have you faced physically, mentally, and psychologically?

Dorian: Definitely my height, I’m not very tall. But I’ve always used my toughness to my advantage a lot of the times; and the most physical challenge that I had dealt with was when I broke my knee in seventh grade. I had to sit out, which was quite frustrating.

Q: Who were your favorite players growing up?

Dorian: So right now, my favorite player is Damian Lillard. Back in the day, my favorite point guard was Rajan Rondo. He was so amazing to watch, the way he would pass the ball. As well as doing all of those tricks and stuff with the ball. Damian Lillard is so underrated; he has made such a good impact on the game. He would help his teammates out by scoring if he has to. He’s the main reason why I chose to wear the jersey number “0”.

Q: So who’s your biggest cheerleader?

Dorian: I don’t know. My dad has always been my coach, so it would be hard to consider him being my cheerleader. I would definitely say that both of my parents are my biggest fan most definitely. He was my coach throughout my youth travel league years to my freshman year at Kenwood Academy.

Q: What does your father do besides coaching basketball?

Dorian: As a full-time job, he works at UCAN.

Q: Oh, ok. Let me guess, his name is Claude Robinson?

Dorian: Yes, sir.

Dorian’s father, Claude Robinson was a high school all-star player at Northwest Military Academy in Wisconsin, and eventually led the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks to the 1989 NCAA Division Three national championship. Robinson was also teammates with Warhawk’s current head coach Pat Miller that same year. Claude became a graduate assistant coach at his alma mater for two years before moving to Chicago.  

Q: Has your dad been hard on you just because you’re his son?

Dorian: Yes, my dad is a competitor. I think I got that trait from him. He would get into my face, and yell at me anytime something wasn’t done his way. It might be because I’m his son, but he’s more competitive than I am. It’s just because he wants me to be better. I appreciate that from my dad.   

Q: Was he a high school star back in the day?

Dorian: Yeah, I actually didn’t know much about it until a couple years ago. He handed me a newspaper one day where it said that he dropped like 34 points one game. So, I guess he was pretty good.

Q: What about your mom?

Dorian: My mom was more focused on academics and she still is. So, if I got a “C” in one of my classes; she’d tell me to get that up.         

Q: How do you feel when you’re out there playing?

Dorian: On the court, I just feel like I need to perform aggressively. I don’t necessarily talk much, but I can talk a little bit. I can get inside of people’s heads. I have to go hard at a profession where I feel like if I don’t, then I’m cheating myself, my coaches, teammates, and everyone. If I’m around just shooting basketball by myself, then I would be seriously focused. Everyone would ask me “Why are you so serious??” It’s because I have to be better, and I have to work harder. That’s just what I do.

Q: Explain the type of style that you normally play?

Dorian: I pride myself on defense. That’s what my father instilled in my head. I also feel like I need to do what I have to do on the court. Whatever the coach needs, that’s what I’m going to do.

Q: In a playing sense, you’re mostly focusing on defense?

Dorian: Oh yeah. I love playing that type of style. Defense beats offense.

Q: Do you feel like you have to use your speed to your advantage?

Dorian: Oh yeah, all I really have is speed and I can jump a little bit. My speed and basketball IQ are to gain; in all I have to do in certain situations. I didn’t get to play a lot during my sophomore year and that took my confidence down a lot. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. It was frustrating just sitting on the bench. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had never experienced that ever before.

Q: When did you become a starter on the varsity team?

Dorian: My senior year. I was a starter and captain this past year.

Q: Did you play other sports growing up?

Dorian: I played baseball and soccer. I enjoyed playing those sports, but I think basketball just stuck out to me. I felt like that was best for me, I just love the game more than the other sports that I played.

Q: Explain to me your biggest accomplishment at CHA.

Dorian: In my last season at Hope Academy, I made the Chicago Prep first All-Conference team. I think that just boosted my confidence a lot heading into the playoffs. So, I think those were my biggest accomplishments. Our team went to the State tournament last year; so that was a good experience. This year, we fell just a little short on going back to State. I think it’s just been great having a good high school basketball career, and I’m really looking forward to playing in college.

Q: What were some of  the valuable things that you learned at CHA?

Dorian: God is first, and he is all powerful and can do whatever. I just have to be patient with him. Trust your coaches, because they know what they’re talking about. A lot of times, I didn’t necessarily trust what he was saying early on. As I saw our success throughout the year, I think I started to pick up what he was saying. It helped us out and we eventually went to state my junior year. This year, we lost in the super-sectionals to the eventual state champions. Players have to work on trusting their coaches in general. That was a big part of our success. I also learned not to get down on myself too much; I struggled a little bit this past year on some of my classes. It wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely a lot more challenging than I expected. My teachers were telling me that I shouldn’t get down on myself when things don’t go well. You just have to keep pushing and work hard to do what you got to do in your classes. I think that was a valuable lesson for me.

Q: What drives you to be a better athlete and student personally?

Dorian: Ok. Academics is always on my list. Academically, I love to write and read. I want to be a journalist when I grow up so. Both of my parents always want me to be well-educated, and choose academics before basketball. I won the young authors award when I was in first grade for writing a story. So that’s where my passion came for writing.

Q: Do you want to write sports stories in the future?

Dorian: I definitely want to do sports. Broadcasting, recording, and anything else that I can do in that field.

Q: What got you interested in that type of career?

Dorian:  When I was in eighth grade, I took a journalism course. I really enjoyed the class because my teacher made journalism really fun for me. I got a chance to write for the newspaper; she really made the class enjoyable for me. That’s when I said to myself: “Wow, I can really do this as a job”. Ever since then, I’ve attended different writing camps. I wrote for the school’s newspaper last year and became an editor-in-chief.

Q: Ok. Hey, that’s what’s up. It’s a great field to get into. Alright so, explain to me your daily routine.

Dorian: In the mornings, I wake up and start my day with a prayer. God comes first in my life. I would do a hundred push-ups to start my day. Then, I would eat breakfast and go to school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.. After school, I have workouts at 4 o’clock and train until 6 o’clock. I’d head to the weight room afterwards from 7-8pm. I’d return home to eat dinner, shower, and do homework. That’s my schedule, pretty much every day except Sunday. That’s my chill day.

Q: Do you go to church often?

Dorian: Yeah, my mom would wake me up early every Sunday morning. She teaches bible study classes.

Q: Does she really?

Dorian: Yeah, she’s also a deacon at a church. She enjoys teaching the incomers; as well as those who are trying to figure out who Christ is. So, she’s a really strong voice for me religiously. She instilled Christianity into my dad. I think that Hope Academy has strengthened my faith definitely. They have special religious courses that I would take every Friday afternoon at our school chapel. This experience has been great for me.

Q: How has your family supported your goals?

A: My family always checks in with me to see how I’m doing. They keep me in line; making sure that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, athletically and academically. They just support me on whatever I do and whatever decision I choose to make.

Q: Did you receive any scholarships from Saint Vincent?

Dorian: I received an academic scholarship. They gave me $30,000, and that’s about two thirds of the cost. Athletically, the school doesn’t give away athletic scholarships to student athletes. But for me personally, I appreciate the one that I already have.

Q: So what other goals do you want to achieve and pursue personally?

Dorian: I just want to be the best player and human being that I can be. I know that I have to mature a little bit more. I have to be stronger and faster athletically. Academically, I know that I have to achieve high standards. I’m going to a catholic school next fall, so I’ll be continuing to build my faith.

Q: So, would you say that God is obviously the main reason why you’re starting to become successful in basketball and academics?

Dorian: Oh yeah, definitely. It has always been part of God’s plan, like Drake’s song! I believe that God has always been with me. I’ve just been so thankful and grateful that God has blessed me with those opportunities to play basketball again.