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A day in the busy life of Amari Robinson

Caitlyn Tai
Despite her busy schedule, forward Amari Robinson (5) has been one of the best players in the ACC this season.

Although everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, Clemson women’s basketball forward Amari Robinson seems to fit in 25 hours worth of work, juggling academics, athletics, extracurriculars and even teaching at a local middle school.

During Clemson’s victory against Duke last month, ESPN displayed Robinson’s busy daily schedule on the broadcast, prompting it to go viral.

While it can vary day-to-day based on the team’s schedule, Robinson generally wakes up at 4:15 a.m. and goes to the weight room, practices and teaches eighth graders for over seven hours at Riverside Middle School in Pendleton.

Balancing that schedule can be tough, but Robinson told The Tiger in an interview that she loves what she does.

“This is what I want to do; it’s not being forced upon me. This is my choice. I chose this life, as crazy and as hectic as it is. So, I just try to enjoy every moment of every position that I’m in. When I’m student-teaching, I try to be my fullest self, be there and give all that I can in that space.

“When I’m with my teammates, I am there for them, giving my all on the court and just making sure that I help them and guide them for the goals that we have. For me, personally, just knowing all of this is going to work out, like no matter how hard, how long and how tiring the days are, it’s all going to be beneficial in the end. I just know I’m doing it for the right reasons.”

Clemson University has been a breeding ground for well-rounded student-athletes, and Robinson has no problem showcasing her skills on the court. Her athletic abilities are well known, as she currently leads the Tigers in scoring with an average of 17.8 points per game.

What is lesser known is how hard Robinson has worked to leave her mark not only as an athlete but also as a community member. She is a multifaceted individual with a schedule that extends far beyond practicing layups.

Her day begins before the break of dawn, as Robinson rises each morning at 4:15 a.m. for 6 a.m. practice. Breakfast, she says, is usually a light meal, but she loves to snack throughout the day, especially on granola bars.

On the way to practice, she makes several stops to pick up the team’s ClemsonLIFE managers, all before 4:50 a.m.

“One of the managers just texted me one day, and he actually tore his ACL,” Robinson explained.“So he wasn’t able to walk like the other ones to practice. So he texted me like, ‘Hey, I’m back, and I can come to practice. Can you pick me up?’”

From there, Robinson began picking up the rest of the managers so they wouldn’t have to walk to practice, especially during the cold winter months, and turned her car into a “party bus.”

After she is finished with practice, she heads to Riverside Middle School, where she student-teaches eighth grade academic enhancement classes beginning at 8 a.m. Despite being entranced by basketball, Robinson always knew she belonged in the classroom.

“Being around my sister who has Down syndrome, just being there watching her do things — walking through school with her, going to her Special Olympics and then, even both my parents being in that type of like social work and giving back,” she told WYFF in an interview. “My mom’s a social worker, and my dad works in a group home, so just all the things really, there wasn’t really any other pathway for me to go.”

Robinson, who is studying to become a special education teacher, said that her school is “very involved with making sure their students have a good experience.” The fifth-year graduate added that she even attended one of the school’s basketball games to showcase her support.

At the middle school, Robinson is known for far more than her skills.

“She’s amazing, there’s a lot of student teachers that are shy or timid, but day one, she was like, let’s do this, and she was planning stuff for us and making cool PowerPoint slides and bringing in new technology, and jumping in day one has really taken ownership of everything,” Bronwyn Bigger, who teaches alongside Robinson, told WYFF.

As the clock keeps ticking, Robinson keeps moving. Her afternoon meal of choice is a turkey and ham sandwich with cheese and mayonnaise, and she insists on always drinking water or juices to fuel her body. With afternoon practice next, she leaves Riverside around 3:20 p.m. and finds herself back on the court by 4 p.m.

After a full schedule of two-a-days, work and balancing her course load, most would be desperate for some rest and relaxation at this point in the day. Not Robinson — she seamlessly transitions into the off-court responsibilities that accompany being the face of Clemson women’s basketball.

This includes media engagements, interviews and podcasts. Robinson said her media responsibilities are getting busier with the season in full swing, but she always strives to make the time.

“I’m pretty flexible, especially just like doing it after school,” she said. “I try to do my best to do as many as I can for the people that reach out because my story is definitely unique and popular.

“Just being able to spread it out as much as I can definitely helps. I don’t want to be one of those people to just say no, I don’t have the time for it. I want to try to make as much time as I can, especially for the people who are willing to listen.”

While each day is a fresh start, they are all just as busy as the last — and the next. The intensity of her schedule is extrapolated during game weeks, especially when the team hits the road.

If the game is away, directly after morning practice, the team showers, loads onto the bus and boards the plane without time to touch home base in between. Shoot around then typically begins as soon as the team arrives, followed by a team dinner and a film session. The next day is just as busy as the Tigers play the game and then travel back home.

At the end of each week, one question always remains: how does she find the time? Robinson says she finds motivation in all the things she does and is “super passionate about giving back.”

She finds her drive to continue through each long day within her desire to support others in the same way she is supported. By acknowledging the contributions of others, she hopes to make the most of all that she has been given. Taking the time and individual effort for her daily endeavors is her way of reciprocating all that she receives.

“Nobody does anything alone,” the Douglasville, Georgia, native said. “It’s definitely great to pave the way for somebody else and give it back, so I feel like that’s where all of this stems from.”

Robinson also emphasized that her multitude of commitments are not imposed on her but rather are the result of a genuine desire to make a positive impact and set an example.

“I think me wanting to do this and making the time and effort for all the things. It’s just one way of me giving back all the things that were given to me,” she said.

Her busy days do not affect her ability to perform on the court. Robinson has had an exceptional season so far, posting a career-high 37 points against Syracuse and averaging 6.9 rebounds in addition to her place as the squad’s top scorer.

“Our goal is just wanting more games than we did last year,” she said. “I think right now, we’re in a rut, but we’re getting so close in each and every competition that we’ve played. So I think once we get over that hump, we’ll definitely start to see our goals come to fruition, and we’ll start winning those games, and we’ll start feeling more confident.”

Robinson is back in action at Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday, where she will face off against No. 7 NC State at 7 p.m.

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About the Contributors
Sarah Pepe
Sarah Pepe, Senior Reporter
Caitlyn Tai, Senior Photographer
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