By Robert Wilson
Patrick Robey guided Madison Central to a 34-2 record, a MSHAA Class 6A state championship and a No. 1 national ranking by Baseball America. Now, Robey has received a national award for his coaching.
Robey has been named the National High School Baseball Coach of the Year by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association.
“It is hard to imagine that many coaches in the United States and a committee decided to hand down the honor to me,” said Robey, who just finished his fifth season as Madison Central’s head coach. “It is a credit to the long-term success of our program at Madison Central. There are coaches, many in the Madison County School District, that built the foundation of our program very strong – Gregg Perry, Brian Hardy, Chris Peden, Presley Hill and Jerry Dupuy and certainly my current high school staff. I feel it is important people know that. Coaches seldom receive national recognition without great players, and we had that. It’s an honor to coach the kids God and these families have entrusted with me. If this award brings more positive attention to baseball in our state and our program, then I am happy about that. I truly believe God puts us exactly where He wants us in each season of our lives. I’m a believer that He put me here to impact these kids with baseball as a platform to do that. The more you win the more you realize how unimportant winning truly is. Coaching is a calling to teach young people how to serve others. I hope I have done that and will continue to do that.”
Robey played at Taylorsville High, Jones County Junior College and Delta State where he was an All-Gulf South Conference shortstop for Coach Mike Kinnison. After playing independent pro baseball, Robey was a graduate assistant for Kinnison at Delta State and was an assistant at East Central CC before becoming head coach at South Panola High from 2003-2012. Robey was head coach and assistant principal at Lafayette High from 2013-2015. In addition to coaching at Madison Central, Robey is an associate scout for the Colorado Rockies under current national cross checker and Mississippian Damon Ianelli.
“It was no secret early on that I knew I wanted to coach,” Robey said. “I cut my teeth at a very young age learning from ABCA Hall of Fame coach Hill Denson, current Southern Miss coach Scott Berry, four-time national junior college soccer championship coach Steve Clements and former Southern Miss and Meridian CC coach Corky Palmer. I attended every baseball camp I could afford at LSU, Southern Miss and Mississippi State as a high school kid to learn as much about the game as I could from coaches Skip Berman, Ron Polk and Hill Denson. It helped me develop as a player. The best decision I ever made for my baseball career was playing at Delta State.”
“I was always a very average player that took a lot of pride in working hard and doing all I could do to create an opportunity to continue playing. I basically begged my way to an opportunity at Delta State then somehow convinced an independent minor league team I could catch and throw well enough to play pro ball. That’s what I try to teach kids today. If you want to play bad enough you create your own path. Don’t wait on some ranking or some dude behind a cubicle to tell you your spin rate or exit velocity is good enough. If you can play, you can play.”
Madison Central was led by Perfect Game Rawlings Sports National High School Two-Way Player of the Year, Mississippi Gatorade Player of the Year and Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Player of the Year Braden Montgomery, a pitcher-outfielder who signed with Stanford. Montgomery, catcher Ross Highfill, first baseman Hunter Hines, second baseman Gatlin Sanders, shortstop Creek Robertson, third baseman Conner Chisolm and utility Connor Nation made the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard first team. Pitcher Ranard Grace and outfielder Jake Cook made the second team.
Madison Central won 21 of its 34 games by 10 runs or more. The two losses were both by one run, 8-7 to Brandon and 3-2 to Starkville.