This week we chat with Dave Robbins, 73, volunteer basketball coach in Plant City for more than 40 years. With help from the Plant City Optimist Club and Plant City's Recreation and Parks department, he founded the Plant City Optimist Basketball League 44 years ago. In the past 10 years, the league has averaged 400 boys and girls per year.
In August, the Plant City Family YMCA will present Robbins its Strong Leader Award for his community service and dedication to the area.
Q: What was your reaction to being named this year's Strong Leader winner?
Answer: I was surprised, really. I've been in Plant City since 1959 and I've been very active in the community since I've been here. I also know there are a lot of people in the area who deserve the same reward.
Q: What makes Plant City so unique to you?
Answer: It's a complete mix as far as the people who live here. You've got farmers and people who have been here all their lives, and they really take ownership of the area. Everyone who moves here quickly adapts to that.
Q: Why has your basketball league been successful for so long?
Answer: It's a strictly recreational league. Everybody who signs up gets to play, and we never let our players practice more than they play in games. We also encourage the whole family to get involved and participate.
Q: Who inspired you to give so much back to your community?
Answer: My mother, Fannie Robbins. She taught us to share because a lot of folks shared with us when we were little.
Q: Who is your favorite basketball player of all time?
Answer: Jerry West. He wasn't the best athlete, but he was a very fundamental guy who really learned the game and has had a lot of success, even after he stopped playing.
- John Ceballos