Short in stature, long on heart


The politically correct term is “vertically challenged,” but wide receivers probably just call him short. The thing is that Virginia Mutiny cornerback Slugger Robinson doesn’t care a whole lot, because he plans on being on top at the end.

Standing 5-foot-4 and weighing 150 pounds, Robinson is the smallest player in the Mason-Dixon Football League, but he is also one of the best, despite his lack of size.

“The fans just love him. He’s an icon around here,” Mutiny coach Jeff Lascola said. “It’s kind of funny, you see receivers at the beginning of games look at him and say ‘Throw me the ball! Throw me the ball!’ Slugger literally will then go and out-jump them. He just finds a way to make plays. He plays beyond his size.”

Last year, Robinson made plenty of plays and was named second team all-conference in the Mason-Dixon League’s Northern Division. He finished tied for seventh in the league with four interceptions and helped the Mutiny to a 9-3 record.

“I just go out and play,” Robinson said. “My uncle would say, ‘Go play with the biggest heart. You’re the littlest guy out there, but go play with the biggest heart.’ So that’s what I do. I just go after it.”

Robinson played at Stonewall in 1995 with Mutiny running back Raymond Gee. The two are longtime friends and grew up together in Manassas.

They have developed a friendly rivalry on the field. Lascola said that the two are constantly trying to one-up each other, even though Gee, who finished second in the Mason Dixon League in rushing last year, usually wins.

“It’s funny because we are night and day,” Gee said. “I am quiet and he is really outgoing. I remember this one time during a game, he made an interception and he acted like he just won the Olympics or something. He fell to the ground and then started gesturing to the crowd, it was really something to see. He’s crazy like that sometimes.”

The two also go at each other in practice. They will argue back and forth, telling each other who is better and what they plan on doing to each other.

“[Raymond] is faster than me and he’s the man right now, but I’m going to be the man someday,” Robinson said. “Growing up it was either he wins or I win, but now he straight wins. I’ll see him do something and I’ll tell myself that it’s my turn to go do something. He shines more, because he gets the ball more, but when I get the ball, I try to make the most of it.”

Robinson’s job though is not to get the ball, but to make sure opposing receivers don’t. He said that he uses his speed and intelligence, instead of his size, to stop receivers think the Darrell Green of semi-pro football.

“I’ll give them a little cushion and when the ball comes I go out and get it,” Robinson said. “I’m not going to let the height get in my way. Nothing gets in my way.”

Robinson’s dream is to play for the Dallas Cowboys and while the chance to roam Texas Stadium on a Sunday afternoon may never come, he is happy being the Mutiny’s Mighty Mouse on defense.

“I’m just trying to be the best that I can be,” Robinson said. “I’m trying to be better than everyone else and get my team to play with me. If they play with me, then we’re going to win.”

The Mutiny lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Virginia Storm. They open the 2002 season Saturday at Manassas Park HS against the Woodbridge-based Prince William Monarchs. The Monarchs are the defending Mason-Dixon champions.

Robinson, though is ready for the fight. His real name is Richard, but was nicknamed “Slugger” as a kid for being what he calls “a little bit of a bully.”

“He just has an outgoing attitude and hits you like a slugger would,” Gee said. “Everything he says and everything he does hits you like a Louisville Slugger. He’ll say something crazy and people will be like, ‘Man, I can’t believe that little joker said that.’ He’s just really outgoing and the name fits him well.”

Robinson is playing with the Mutiny, because he enjoys playing football, but also wants to help out in the community.

“I want to help little kids,” said Robinson, who has three daughters. “I got in a little trouble and had some problems earlier in life, but I got my stuff together and now I’m here. That’s all that counts and I want to share that with kids.”

Robinson never graduated from Stonewall, but earned his General Equivalency Diploma in 1999. He now works for S.W. Rodgers in Gainesville and enjoys fishing and playing football.

“Bad things are going to happen,” Robinson said, “but I want kids to know that it’s never to late to turn things around like I did.”

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