Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kate Robinson Steps Into Justin's World

One of my favorite things about running this site is getting to catch up with stellar former players. Today's feature falls into that category as we catch up with & get to know Hawaii great Kate Robinson.

The 2007 WAC Pitcher of the Year and an All-American that same season, Robinson still holds the program's single-season RBI record. She ranks third in program history in home runs with forty-four and third all-time in RBI. 

A real dual threat, she also holds the single-season record for pitching winning percentage with her .944 number in her all-American season. She earned both Easton and NFCA all-American honors in a pitcher/utility player spot.

Robinson was drafted 11th overall in the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch draft by the Akron Racers. She was the team's second selection in the draft, behind Virginia Tech's Angela Tincher.

Since her American playing days ended, Kate began playing in Europe until 2013, when she decided to put more of an emphasis on her career and her coaching side of things. Continue reading as she shares more about that, as well as:

  • Her favorite memories and awards
  • The toughest opponent she faced (with a great story to go with it!)
  • The biggest differences between softball in the US and overseas
  • Some really great stories (I particularly enjoyed why she started playing softball)
  • and MORE

Justin’s World: How did you get your start playing softball?
Kate Robinson: When I was nine years old, my Dad made me play.  It meant I didn’t have to play soccer.

Justin’s World: Even though being from Hawaii, the answer seems obvious, I’m going to ask it… what about that school & softball program made you want to attend & play ball there?
Kate Robinson: From the time I was young, I always went to the University of Hawaii softball games.  It was a team I had grown up watching and always felt that it was the school I wanted to play for.  The fact that my parents and my dog could watch all my home games was also a huge bonus. 

Justin’s World: You have the great distinction of being both a great hitter and an excellent pitcher. Do you think your success as a hitter bettered you as a pitcher or vice versa? How so?
Kate Robinson: Yes.  I have always been a utility player from the time I was young. I could not imagine only being a pitcher.  I would go crazy.  My dad would always tell me pitching would be my ticket somewhere, but hitting and a secondary position would keep me in the lineup.  I love the fact that I could contribute to both sides of the game.  It allowed for redemption if I struggled on one side, or allowed me to attack both sides of the ball if I was on.  Doing both also kept me focused and aggressive the entire game. 

Justin’s World: Who was the toughest opponent you ever faced, at any level, either in the circle or the batter’s box?
Kate Robinson: My sister, Sarah Robinson, who also played for University of Hawaii.  During her freshman year, I played an alumnae game against the team.  My Dad said if I let her hit a home run off of me, he would play me $100.  I said I would but there was no way I was going to let that happen.  When she came up to bat, I pitched hard at her.  She hit a flat rise out of the park.  I told my Dad I let her hit it. 

Justin’s World: When and how did you first hear about the NPF and decided that playing pro softball was something you might want to do?
Kate Robinson: When I was younger, the WPSL All-Star Team came to Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium to play the National Team.  Throughout the years, it converted to NPF.  I received an email from two teams asking if I was interested to play with them.  Softball is something I’m extremely passionate about and having the opportunity to play beyond college was not something I was going to pass up.  

Justin’s World: Was playing softball after college always your dream? What other career aspirations did you have?
Kate Robinson: Playing softball after college was an idea that presented itself my senior year of college.  After college ball was over, it was a little scary thinking about what comes next because of the transition away from what was my life for four years.  I graduated with a degree in Business Management, so I was entertaining the idea of entering the restaurant industry.  When I realized I could keep playing, and traveling, and getting paid to do it, I went for it. 

Justin’s World: What are some of the biggest differences between playing softball in the US and playing overseas?
Kate Robinson: Playing in the NPF is much more competitive than overseas.  The NPF is made up of All-Americans, Olympians, and top players in the game.  Pitching against these lineups was like pitching to number four hitters every batter.  There is no break in competition and you always have to be sharp.  Hitting was challenging too because you are hitting against the best pitchers in the game.  In addition to competing against the other teams, you are also competing against your own teammates to keep your starting position.  I enjoyed it because when you are successful, it felt good knowing the caliber of players you are up against.  Playing overseas was challenging as well, but for me in this instance, I used softball as a means to travel the world.  The level is not as high, but the experience outside of the game has given me many memories I would otherwise not have had.

Justin’s World: You’ve got a mighty-full trophy case; is there one single award that is especially significant and special to you for some reason?
Kate Robinson: My favorite award is my 2007 WAC Pitcher of the Year because it took me two years to finally get a full-time role as a pitcher for the team. 

Justin’s World: Tell me what you’ve been up to in more recent history. Are you still playing, or are you involved with the game in other ways?
Kate Robinson: The last international tournament I played in was the 2013 European Championships Class A in Prague, CZ. I played for the Czech Eagles.  We won the gold medal and I received tournament MVP.  After this tournament, I decided it was a good moment to take a step back from playing softball, and concentrate more on my career and coaching.  I currently am the assistant coach at Moanalua HS.  I also do private pitching lessons, and hope within the next few years some up-and-coming local pitchers will make a splash in the collegiate game.  Currently I work at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on submarines. 

Justin’s World: What is your favorite moment or memory from your career?
Kate Robinson: One of my favorite moments in college was against New Mexico State.  We were down by three runs in the later innings of the game.  I came up to bat with two outs and bases loaded.  My first pitch I took as a strike to the outside corner.  My coach didn’t like that and got really mad at me.  He called time to scold me to for not hitting that pitch to the right side.  The next pitch I hit a grand slam. 

Justin’s World: If you could take three things to a deserted island (no boats, no phones) for an undetermined period of time, what would you take?
Kate Robinson: I would take a pillow, a fishing pole, and a knife. 

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