Tribute to Charlie ‘Softly’ Robins

CHARLES ‘SOFTLY’ ROBINS

Contributed by Martin Lundy

On behalf of the Kentucky Colonels Basketball Organization, I commend my former team mate, Charlie “Softly” Robins on his achievement of joining a number of his other Kentucky Colonels teammates as members of the Three-Score and Ten fraternity.  

In fact, other members and fans of his Colonels family have asked me to reassure him that his Colonels’ organization remains the only basketball Club in the history of the country to win multiple national championships in every single division, that is, in Division One, Division Two and in the Ladies Division as well as what was the Annual National Independence Basketball Tournament. 

In achieving such unmatched levels of success, the Colonels relied on members such as “Softly” who played such a pivotal role, inclusive of the championship year when the Colonels went undefeated (35-0) under their late Coach, the great Wenty Ford.  

Also, noteworthy here is that when Robins was first introduced to the Colonels by the late Phillip “Cabbage” Poitier and the late Anthony “Bando” Bostwick, he arrived with his two given names, “Charlie Robins.” With the Colonels, he acquired a third, “Softly,” which originated in the course of a championship series against the Becks Cougars, those constant archrivals of the Colonels.  

Indeed, at a critical moment in one of those epic battles, Robins received an outlet pass from Sharon “the General” Storr and then raced upcourt towards the basket.  In their anticipation of a vicious slam dunk by Robins, the overflowing multitude in the A. F. Adderley stood to their feet.  

Robins, however, disappointed them by skying high above the rim, but only to softly drop the ball into the basket.  In media reports the following day, he explained that the action was his demonstration of slaying the Cougars softly. From that incident, the media and most Bahamians came to identify and refer to him by one name, “Softly.”

Throughout the course of that Golden era of Bahamian basketball, Robins was an integral part of the championship Colonels team which, for one reason or another, had been reduced to eight players, described by the local sports media as the Magnificent Seven Plus One.  Those magnificent seven were Phillip “Cabbage” Poitier, Eddie Ford, Sharon “The General” Storr, Sterling Quant, Keith Belzee Smith, Dave “Butter” Bastian and Martin Lundy. For good measure, the Plus One was the confirmed free spirit, Mark T-Fat Clarke.

On such a limited roster, Robins was encouraged to become more offense minded. In fact, in an historic game in which five Colonel players were losing to a team of seven on-the-court opponents, Robins took the game into his own hands.  Smartly assisted by Poitier and the  General, he connected on eleven consecutive midrange jump shots to lead the Colonels to victory.  

From that moment forward, Robins led the debate as to whether or not he should become the center-piece of the Colonels offense.  Of course, Belzee Smith disagreed, referring to his own offensive capabilities as reflected by the reputation he earned as a sharpshooter and as best reflected in common references to him as “Sharp Eyes”.

Robins tenure with the Kentucky Colonels ended with his relocation to Grand Bahama.  The Colonels loss was Grand Bahama’s gain for Robins was to join forces with Hall of Fame Coach, Gladstone “Moon” McPhee to catapult Grand Bahama into becoming the basketball capital of The Bahamas.  In fact, the two combined to deliver to Grand Bahama, it first national basketball championship title.

In that particular championship series, player/coach Robins led his Island Lobsters Club in a best-of-five game series against his former Club, the Kentucky Colonels.  After the Colonels won the first two of three Games in New Providence, Robins publicly expressed his goal of his team becoming the first from Grand Bahama to avoid being swept by New Providence in the national basketball championships.  

Whether out of overconfidence or compassion, the Colonels cooperated by losing the third game in New Providence, compelling   the series to move to Grand Bahama for the final two games.  The Island Lobsters won both of those games, bringing to Grand Bahama its first national basketball title. 

In closing then, it is the sincere hope of Softly’s entire Kentucky Colonels family that he continues to enjoy all the fruits of his hard labour in bringing much-needed relief to the youth off The Bahamas through basketball and beyond.  For in words once issued by the late Fr. Marcian Peters, OSB, the founder and patron of the Kentucky Colonels organization, “Once a Colonel always a Colonel.”

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