We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.
Q&A with New Men's Golf Coach Grant Robbins
New K-State men's golf coach Grant Robbins, his wife Brooke and their children, Bryce and Brayden, outside the Colbert Hills clubhouse Thursday morning. (Photo: Rod Mikinski)
By Kelly McHugh
June 25, 2014
For new K-State men's golf head coach Grant Robbins, the past three weeks have been a whirlwind. Since arriving in Manhattan in late May, he's spent his days getting used to a new system as well as spending time on the road recruiting future Wildcats.
Robbins, a 15-year coaching veteran, came to K-State after spending the past 11 seasons at Memphis, his alma mater. His resume boasts three coach of the year honors in two different conferences, guiding six teams to NCAA play and, at Memphis, the 2012 Conference USA Championship.
Robbins, the 13th men's golf coach in Wildcat history, began his coaching career at Penn State where he served as the assistant coach from 1997-99. After Penn State, he spent four years as the head coach at UNC Wilmington (1999-2003) before taking the job at Memphis.
Though Robbins has spent majority of his life in Memphis (the city is also his hometown) he is no stranger to Manhattan, Kansas, as his wife, Brooke, is a 2006 K-State graduate from Wichita.
K-State Sports Extra had the opportunity to sit down with Robbins and talk about his time as a Wildcat so far.
Sports Extra: You've been the Wildcats' head coach for a month now. How have you enjoyed your time in Manhattan so far?
Grant Robbins: It's been really busy just trying to meet a lot of new people, understand the new processes and things like that, but also, this is our recruiting season for golf, so that's been taking up most of my time.
SE: How often have you been out and about recruiting?
GR: Well, just about every week. I've been all over. We hired an assistant a few weeks ago, Cullen Carstens, and he's out doing the same thing. That's are our main focuses right now, trying to meet as many people as we can and recruit.
SE: Did you know Cullen previously and why was he a good fit as the assistant coach?
GR: Our paths crossed a little bit in the past. He was the assistant coach at Jacksonville State for two years so at Memphis, we competed against him a little bit. I got to know him and when I was looking to fill this position. I was looking for someone who had some ties to the region, and he had been a volunteer assistant at Oklahoma State before and is from St. Louis, so it's just a perfect fit.
At Memphis, I didn't have a full-time assistant, so he's my first. This is my first full time assistant, and he's been a big help so far. We're both brand new, so we're both kind of figuring things our and learning how things work together.
SE: What have been some of your best moments as head coach at K-State so far?
GR: I've just been blown away with the support. My wife is a K-State alum, so we're familiar with K-State and I've been here before. It's just awesome how friendly everybody is, and how welcoming everyone is. It's just been great; and then just seeing how passionate everybody is about Wildcat sports, that's been great too.
SE: You grew up in Memphis, played collegiately and graduated from Memphis then coached there. How different is it for you to be somewhere new now?
GR: I had been around before. I started out as an assistant at Penn State and when I was there, I really liked the small college town feel. I always wanted to go back to a place like that, but I had the opportunity to coach at my alma mater and that was really good. I was there for 11 years and, I don't know, you just get to a point in your career where you need a change. There are a lot of things about Manhattan that remind me of University Park (Pennsylvania). Also, we have two boys - three and one - and this is a great place to raise a family, so those things were big attractions to K-State.
SE: What are your thoughts on the Big 12 Conference?
GR: It's a great conference. The Big 12 is one of the best conferences across the board in every sport, but its golf is especially good. Oklahoma State is traditionally the cream of the crop, one of the top college golf programs, and then Texas, it's always towards the top. Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Baylor; there are just some really, really good golf programs, and it's very competitive.
SE: Every coach is different, so how would you describe your coaching style?
GR: Style wise, I think it's really important to have a good personal relationship with your players, so I try to get to know them in more than just a golf sense. I try to get to know them personally; that's what we're in the business for. We want them to be the best golfers they can be, but we also want them to be the best individuals they can be. I'm very hands on; I'll try to get to know them on a personal basis, but we want to be competitive as we can to develop their golf game as well.
SE: What were your first impressions of your team?
GR: I've met them all by now, which was one of the things I wanted to do over the last few weeks; sit down and meet with them. We have several players from Kansas City and I was out there recruiting, so I had dinner with some of the guys there, and then we have a couple guys from St. Louis, so when I was in St. Louis recruiting I met with them too.
They're really good kids, and they're eager to work. Our goal is to get this program back to where it needs to be, and we've got to get them buying into our philosophy as coaches where everyone is working for the same goal. We're going to be really young again next year, but I think the foundation is in place to keep moving.
SE: Talking about goals, what are your goals for the K-State men's golf program?
GR: Our first goal is just to get everybody to believe in what is possible here. I believe the pieces are in place to where we should be competing for National Championships. We just have to get the guys to believe that that is the ultimate goal, but there is a progression that you have to make to get there. Our goal is for guys to get better day by day, tournament by tournament and year by year. Our first goal is to get back into the NCAA Regionals, so we've got to get our ranking better. This program has never been to the NCAA Championship finals, so our goal is to get there for the first time in school history.
SE: Finally, is there anything extra you would like Wildcat fans to know?
GR: I'm just really excited to be here. We're going to work extremely hard to put a product out there that we want people to be proud of both on and off the course. We're going to recruit good players who are also good students and who will be good ambassadors for the university and the community.