The 2020 Hail Varsity Football Yearbook hits mailboxes and newsstands very soon. In anticipation, we’re sharing stories that hit the cutting room floor from our main features. Let's take a look at sophomore wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson through the eyes of his second mother.
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When I set out to write my Hail Varsity Football Yearbook story on Wan’Dale Robinson, I wanted to focus on two things. First, I wanted to discover the type of young man that the Husker star is. Second, I wanted to explore the relationship between he and his father Dale. Wan'Dale's father was in and out of his life while serving time in prison. These two things are linked because Wan'Dale is who he is because of this relationship.
I found it interesting that the only non-relative I was recommended to speak with was Kelley Hawkins. Wan’Dale considers her a second mother. She, alongside her husband, helped to step in and fill the void in Wan’Dale’s life at times.
Even as a kid, Wan’Dale had another gear in sports that most his age did not. Hawkins said he was an excellent student that never got in trouble. He wanted the best for himself and there would be no stopping him no matter what it was.
“Dale will tell you the Robinsons don't play baseball,” Hawkins said. “He or his brothers never played baseball as good of athletes as they were. Well, my son was a baseball player and a football player. So Wan'Dale was with us constantly and I would try to keep track of him at these baseball fields. We did travel ball when they were little. We couldn't keep up with him. He's running around everywhere during the games. Mike, my husband said, ‘All right. You're going to play baseball. I can't keep up with you running the parks.’
“He's like seven. We're going to get you number 42. You're going to be Jackie Robinson. We're going to get on this baseball team. It didn't start out too well. But then I tell you what, he turned into a really good baseball player because there's not anything he was not going to be the best he could be at. He would take hitting lessons, he would do whatever it took. Obviously, football was his main sport but he ended up being a really good baseball player also. That’s just one example.
“I mean, anything he set his mind to he would accomplish. It's just how he is and he's still that way.”
To get another piece of the player and person you see on Saturdays let’s fast forward to Wan’Dale’s senior year of high school. There was a lot of work ahead of time for him to graduate and enroll early for college. He had taken basically everything he needed once he got to his senior year. Wan’Dale once again showed the type of person he is during that first semester.
“Two of his hours he went and just volunteered at the middle school and mentored all these young boys,” Hawkins said. “They still keep in touch. One of them even came to his first home game last year at Nebraska. You know, he didn't have to do that. He could have sat in there and lifted weights. He could have aided for a teacher or snuck out like the rest of them did. That’s what my other son Logan did. But he didn't.
“He went there and spent time with those kids. That's the kind of kid he is.”
Greg is the Recruiting Analyst for Hail Varsity and has covered Husker athletics since 2013. He has always had a passion for sports while growing up in the Chicago area. As he got older and had to hang up his cleats and sneakers, he realized his passion for sports went beyond just watching and attending games. He has covered many events from the Rose Bowl to championship boxing matches. If he’s not talking sports, he’s hovering over his grill. He is married to an amazing woman, Kim, and they have a dog that barks when Greg yells at the TV during games.