Sean Robbins jumping through life since graduating as an eagle in 1996

Zach Read

Alumni from a university are an intriguing group of people because they are all different. After their time at Ashland University, each individual goes their separate ways to begin the rest of their life.

Some people jump right into a full-time job in their field, others are adventurous for a few years that jump around before settling down and then there is Sean Robbins, who after his time at AU literally continued to jump for a living.

As a premiere long jumper at Ashland from 1991-1996, Robbins won five Division II long jump national titles and was a 10-time D-II All-American. He still holds the sixth (indoors) and eighth (outdoors) best jumps all-time in Division II.

When asked what his fondest memory of Ashland was, you would expect it to be winning a national championship or the blood, sweat and tears he dedicated to track and field, but it was none of that. Instead it was one simple thing.

Cookies and cream ice cream.

“There was a guy that worked at convo and every time I was there I got cookies and cream; before he would see me walk up there, he would look at me and have my bowl ready for me,” Robbins said, “he always apologized when they didn’t have it.”

Robbins graduated in 1996 and earned his Bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and recreation administration.

Less than two months after graduation, Robbins was in Atlanta competing in the Olympic trials for a spot as an Olympian long jumper.

submitted by Sean Robbins
Robbins assisting with the assessment tests at an NFL officials combine.

Sporting an Ashland uniform, Robbins came up just short and was placed as an alternate.

“One thing that I really proved at that Olympics is I beat a lot of Division I athletes in that field, the only guys that beat me in that Olympic trials were professionals,” Robbins said. “I put it all out there and you can’t really ask for anything more.”

It also turned out that of the three athletes who had beaten Robbins at the trials, two of them finished on the podium for the long jump at the Olympics. In fact, Robbins’ trial jump would have earned him a silver medal that year at the Olympics.

Fast forward to four years later, and Robbins is preparing for the trials until he pulled his groin in a competition three weeks before, marking the start of a long rehabilitation journey.

Although still competing at the 2000 Olympic trials, he also blew out his hip which sidelined Robbins for all of 2001. After coming back for the 2002 season and competing, Robbins had the same exact hip injury occur, on the other hip, which put him back on the sidelines for all of 2003.

Coming back for redemption once again, Robbins competed in the 2004 Olympic trials and was named an alternate once again.

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Robbins atop the podium, winning the 1996 outdoor national championship in the long jump.

“Being able to climb that ladder after having two years taken out of my career, I learned from it,” Robbins said. “I thank God I don’t have any issues with my body, my back and my knees from that.”

Robbins continued to compete after the 2004 Olympic trials, but at a meet in 2006, he knew it was time to hang it up.

“I was running down the runway and I jumped and thought it was like a 27-foot jump, I’m like ‘yes I’m back I’m back.’ I turned around and it was like 25-foot something and after that I was like ‘okay I’m done,’” Robbins said.

After retiring from jumping, Robbins also wrapped up his six-year coaching stint at AU in which he had been an assistant coach since 2000.

Once running and college coaching seemed to have run its course, what was next for Sean Robbins?

Back in 1998, Robbins had become a personal trainer, so by the time 2006 rolled around, he had grown a solid client base and started up his own company, Fitness and Sports Excellerated.

Robbins and his company provides quality fitness and sports training that is inclusive to all of his clients, including sports officials: professional, collegiate and amateur.

Robbins said that his biggest break in the business was in 2012 when he was training John Parry, an NFL official. Last year, Parry was the head official in Super Bowl LIII for the second time in his career.

Parry felt like Robbins had the skills to work with and train other officials, so he introduced Robbins to the head supervisor of the Big Ten officials.

“I went to their clinics and I did a presentation for them and they were like ‘we want you,’” Robbins said.

Before you know it, Robbins was working with the officials for football of the Big Ten, Mid-American Conference and the Missouri Valley Conference.

“I go to the games and am on the field. I videotape them and I make sure their movements are efficient and make sure they’re not hurting themselves through injuries and stuff like that. Then I send them evaluations after the game,” Robbins said.

Robbins added that he loves this line of work because it gives him a different perspective on officials, and he has also been able to corner a market nobody else is pursuing.

In addition to the three conferences above, in the past few years Robbins has been hired to assist with the assessment tests for PAC-12 officials and NFL officials at their combines. With this sort of schedule, Robbins keeps busy in the summer with traveling all over the country to work with officials.

“It has really opened up a lot of opportunities to get those guys healthy, to get them injury free and making sure they have their particular workouts… if they get hurt, then they can’t work,” Robbins said. “They’re athletes just like anybody else and they make mistakes just like anyone else.”

submitted by Sean Robbins
Robbins alongside AU track and field head coach Jud Logan in April 2019 during the ring ceremony for the Eagle’s 2019 Indoor Track and Field National Championship.

Even with his busy lifestyle and all the training he is doing, Robbins wants to make sure he gives back.

“People think making a lot of money is going to fill you, but giving back is going to be huge,” Robbins said.

For the last 12 years, Robbins has found his way of giving back to be every week at Victory Gallup, an equestrian rehabilitation center for children with special needs.

“I started off mucking stalls and then when the kids came out I was hooked; I was hooked on the reactions of these kids and watching them ride these big beasts—kids that have autism, down syndrome, aspergers— it’s amazing how a horse can soothe a lot of that,” Robbins said.

This simple act has brought joy to Robbins as well as the children who ride the horses.

After a life filled with so many journeys and interacting with so many different people, Robbins advice to college students is simple.

“Have faith in God and let him direct your path,” Robbins said. “You can’t do everything on your own. The support of your parents and everybody that you’re surrounded by is going to be key.”