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‘He was the perfect teammate’

Cedar Creek coaches mourn, remember late Owen Robinson
Tuesday, July 9, 2024
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Photo by Darrell James Owen Robinson's legacy lives on at Cedar Creek.

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Courtesy photo

Owen Robinson was selfless.

Whether he was befriending strangers on their first day of school or sacrificing personal athletic glory to benefit the greater good, Robinson’s time at Cedar Creek was built around what he gave to others. And he gave a lot.

A smile in every room he entered. No fear of social awkwardness when it came to making friends or greeting coaches in public. If Robinson was needed, he’d be there.

It’s that light, that spirit of service in Robinson’s legacy, that now lives on in the hearts of those who knew him best after he died early Sunday morning in a car accident.

Robinson, a 2023 graduate of Cedar Creek, was 20 years old.

Matt Middleton, Robinson’s football coach at Creek from 2021-2022, remembers his willingness to perform any task needed of him.

“The biggest thing is you obviously think of Jeff, Brooke, Blake and their entire family,” Middleton said. “ It’s times like this when you look around you and realize how much he impacted so many around him. When it comes to Owen, he was one of those kids who 100% of the time had a smile on his face. It’s not a coaching cliche when I say he did whatever was asked of him whether he started or was a role player. His teammates loved him, and we loved him.”

Robinson’s friendship with Middleton’s son Caden is what made him a true example of being part of the Cougar family. It left Middleton inspired to see there were still young people willing to take a leap of faith and reach out when others would have rather avoided the awkwardness.

“My son was the new guy on the team, and Owen was one of the first ones to reach out and befriend him. That said enough to me about who he was and what kind of character he had and how he was raised,” Middleton said. “It’s not easy being the new kid at school, but I know it couldn’t have been easy to befriend someone you don’t even know as soon as you meet them. That’s who he was.”

Robinson put up 39 tackles at linebacker as a senior, along with snaps at H-back when needed.

But Robinson didn’t need to be the star. He wanted to be a part of something bigger than himself. The spotlight wasn’t necessary. Middleton wished he could have 10 more just like him.

“I could have asked him to play right guard and he would have said, ‘Yes sir. Happy to do it.’ That tells the story of who he was,” Middleton said. “And that doesn’t happen a lot in this day and age. It was important to him to be a part of the team, and it didn’t matter what role it was. It didn’t matter how many times he touched the ball or how many tackles he would get, he just wanted to be out there with his buddies playing.”

Robinson’s selflessness carried over to the chalky, gritted- teeth sport of powerlifting — of which he was a member of the 2021 State Championship powerlifting team, 2022 3rd place team, and 2023 State Runners-Up team. To this day, he still holds the 165-pound deadlift record at Creek.

Jacob Angevine, head powerlifting coach and assistant football coach at Creek, has known the Robinson family for years. To encapsulate Owen, someone he’s known most of his life, didn’t come easy to Angevine. But it all came back to how much he gave others.

“It’s amazing to see all these social media posts of how much he meant to people and how much he was to others. He was a brother, a friend, a teammate. He was a lot to so many different people. And that’s the kid I knew growing up,” Angevine said. “He never met a stranger, and he’d always want to talk with people and start up a conversation. We had a kid transfer in his junior year, and you know that most new kids come in and it’s awkward and you don’t know anyone, but Owen became friends with him the first day. It’s tough to replace someone like that.”

Forget strangers. Robinson kept his outgoing personality on display with those he knew well, including Angevine.

“I remember when he was in eighth grade, he somehow found my Snapchat, and I have been friends with his dad for a long time and was around him and his family a lot, and he tried to add me on Snap,” Angevine said. “ And I remember the next day at school he said, ‘Hey, I tried to add you.’ I said, ‘I’ll add you after you graduate.’ Well, on graduation night he comes up to me and goes, ‘Coach Ange, you have to add me back now.’ He remembered that story from when he was in eighth grade. He just loved to be with people. And he was at my wedding too. That kid was special.”

Angevine hoped Robinson would join him as an assistant powerlifting coach in the future, looking to lean on his experience of overcoming adversity to help make school history.

After a knee injury as a freshman, Robinson dedicated himself to coming back stronger and giving everything he had. It was on full display in the Cougars’ powerlifting state championship in 2021 — the sixth in school history and first since 2006.

Despite the title being all but locked up for the Cougars over Calvary Baptist, Angevine and fellow coaches let Robinson step up with a chance to break a PR. He delivered.

“He had the pull of his life, and those seniors jumped on him and celebrated like it was the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. They loved him,” Angevine said. “He knew his role and wanted to be the best at that. He always knew his job. The kid was a leader. There’s really nothing short of that you can say.”

Cedar Creek Athletic Director Gene Vandenlangenberg issued a statement on Owen's passing as well, remembering him as a positive influence on those around him.

"I am heartbroken over the news of Owen Robinson’s tragic passing. Owen was a very active student and gifted athlete who excelled in football and power lifting. He always demonstrated his school spirit by dressing up in theme-appropriate costumes and cheering for his classmates from the student section at home basketball games. His outgoing personality made it easy for him to make friends and he never met a stranger."

Robinson is the son of Jeff Robinson and Brooke St. John, and brother to Blake Robinson, Josh Robbins, and Jack Robbins.

A vigil was held for Owen Monday evening at Cedar Creek.