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Behind the many medals

Accomplished track star, Romel Robinson, is a triple-threat

As a starting sprinter for HSU’s track team, and recipient to over a hundred awarded medals, Romel Robinson, is familiar with identifying himself as a runner. However, beyond the many medals, is a self-taught gymnast and break-dancer.

“I taught myself [to tumble] in middle school,” Robinson said. “My friend knew how to back flip and tried to teach me, we were just messing around.”

Finding a new interest in the gymnastics world, Robinson continued to teach himself new tumbling tricks.

“My favorite is a double back flip,” Robinson said. “It’s a work in progress, I don’t have the right equipment to perform it without hurting myself.”

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The right side of the Dream Athletics gym is painted with bright, neon colors and lines of championship banners. Feb. 18. | Photo by Grace Caswell

Robinson is extremely careful when practicing tumbling, as he’s already out for the season with two pulled hamstrings.

“It’s a lot of strain, very similar to running,” Robinson said. “You tumble until your body can’t, which is about an hour, to an hour and a half in. After that, you’re sloppy and too weak.”

While finding a commonality between the physical excursions of tumbling and track, Robinson views the two sports very differently.

“Tumbling is just for fun,” Robinson said. “I got pushed into track, it’s more competitive, and I take it seriously. It’s a lifestyle.”

Fellow teammate, roommate, and competitor, Stefan John, supports Robinson both on and off the track.

“We’re straight up family, we gel,” John said. “We have a lot in common, and run the same events. He wants my stride and I want his quickness! We’re great friends and competitors.”

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Stefan John, HSU track athlete poses in the library post interview. Feb. 19. | Photo by Grace Caswell

With athletic support, Robinson pursues an environmental engineering major as a first generation college student. Idolizing his first engineering professor, Sintana Vergara, Robinson refers to her as his “Humboldt Mom”.

“She’s always been there to help,” Robinson said. “She helped me through starvation freshman year, buying me groceries. She’s constantly encouraging me in and out of the classroom.”

Sintana Vergara shares a very similar attitude toward Robinson. Vergara said that Robinson was the first student she met at HSU.

“It was a very friendly start,” Vergara said. “I remember he casually mentioned eating one meal a day, it broke my heart, I wanted to advocate for him. It was crazy and exceptionally frustrating. He’s such an amazing athlete and student, full of potential.”

Robinson pursues a masters and doctorate degree, with a goal of becoming the first doctor in his family. Vergara fully supports and believes in Robinson’s dream.

“I grew up in a difficult area. I remember we didn’t always have food and my mom was working multiple jobs. She’s my biggest inspiration and is totally killing it now…”

Romel Robinson

“There’s no doubt he can do it,” Vergara said. “Everyone struggles regardless, no matter who you are. It’s a tough major, but, he will be successful.”

Focused on following a strict plan for the next ten years of his life, Robinson has an interesting goal for his more distant future.

“After getting my masters and doctorate degree, I want to change my name,” Robinson said. “Romel Fresh Robinson, so when I’m a professor, I can be called Dr. Fresh or Professor Fresh.”

Coming from the tough area of Visalia, California Robinson emphasizes opportunity and dedication.

“I grew up in a difficult area,” Robinson said. “I remember we didn’t always have food and my mom was working multiple jobs. She’s my biggest inspiration and is totally killing it now, doing accounting at a firm.”

Watching a powerful and successful transition in his family, encourages Robinson to achieve and accomplish more.

“My mom taught me everything I know,” Robison said. “She helps me with whatever I need, even if she doesn’t know how, she’s my favorite.”

With serious goals and aspirations for the future, track becomes nearly invisible on the long list of objectives. However, it gave Robinson an opportunity in the first place, and will remain his life indefinitely.

“I like running, it’s something I will always do, until I die!” Robinson said. “I mean, it got me here.”

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