Women's volleyball: South Carolina's Mikayla Robinson establishing her own identity in a Gamecock family
Mikayla Robinson may be the daughter of former South Carolina and NFL football player Marcus Robinson (1993-94, 96), but the talented freshman is already making her own name stand out with the Gamecocks. Robinson, out of West Dundee, Illinois, where she was a high school All-American, said following in her father’s footsteps wasn’t the main reason she chose South Carolina.
“He really supported me in coming here,” Robinson said of her father. “He did tell me how nice and supportive everyone was here. I really liked the campus, so I came here. I really liked the team. Team chemistry is very important to me.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on me because of my dad having played here. I just really wanted to play and show what I could bring to the team.”
Having some other talented student-athletes on the team, such as sophomore Mikayla Shields, along with well-known names on the coaching staff, including assistant coach Shonda Cole, a former All-American at South Carolina who went on to play professionally, also factored into her decision.
“Once I heard about Shonda, I really wanted her to coach me,” Robinson said. “Mikayla Shields is a really good teammate. The coaches match up the new players with older players as ‘bigs’ and ‘littles’ to help us get adjusted. She’s my ‘big.’ She helps me a lot.”
I like the coaches a lot. They are very supportive, and they’re always helping me get better.
While her father may not have been the deciding factor in her choice of colleges, he did play a big part in her athletics career.
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“I really wasn’t in to sports when I was younger, but I am glad he steered me in that direction." Robinson said. "I tried a bunch of different sports. He was really supportive with everything I did. He’s a trainer now, so he helped a lot."
The talented freshman has already cracked the starting lineup in a South Carolina program that is on the rise.
“I really like my team a lot,” Robinson said. “I’m really shy, but I’m very comfortable around them. I like the coaches a lot. They are very supportive, and they’re always helping me get better.”
Robinson talks to her dad every day and looks forward to having him come on campus to watch her play. While he is often still recognized in public, she doesn’t mind at all.
“I take it as a compliment because my dad did a lot,” Robinson said. “So I don’t get tired of that.”
Like every college freshman, Robinson is adjusting to the increased workload from her classes on top of the demands of being a student-athlete.
“There’s a lot of homework and a lot of reading,” Robinson said. “My dad prepared me for all of the work outs and things like that. I worked out a lot when I was home.
“Just getting to class and practice on time and making it to weights is a big deal for me,” she added with a smile. “Just being on time was a big thing for me, because normally, I’m not.”
With her career off to a good start, Mikayla is the Robinson who is now in the spotlight, and Marcus can enjoy coming to matches where he can simply be No. 8’s dad.