Former Mitchell player Derek Robey has O'Gorman boys on top of the SD basketball worldMitchell High School graduate and Sioux Falls O’Gorman boys’ basketball coach Derek Robey has led his team to a state championship three times in the past four years.
By: Claire Meador, The Daily Republic
Mitchell High School graduate and Sioux Falls O’Gorman boys’ basketball coach Derek Robey has led his team to a state championship three times in the past four years.
This past season marked Robey’s seventh year as O’Gorman’s coach, and he ended it with a bang, handing retiring Mitchell boys’ basketball coach Gary Munsen the final loss of his career. It was also the second year in a row that Robey and his team defeated Munsen and the Kernels in the Class AA state championship game.
Since Robey took the boys’ basketball coaching position in 2005, he has led his teams to five state titles and one fourth-place finish. The only year Robey and the Knights haven’t made it to the state tournament since he’s been head coach was 2008.
Robey said he doesn’t have any secret to success at the state tournament; he’s just been fortunate to have some hard-working teams.
“I’ve had a lot of talented teams and players these past couple of years, and we’ve been able to stay injury free. Each year, we’ve worked really hard to get to the state championship.”
A 1983 Mitchell High School graduate, Robey played for Munsen, who retired with nine boys’ state titles and three girls’ titles. Robey attended Northern State University and started his coaching career while he was still in college in 1988.
His first coaching position was at Aberdeen Roncalli High School, where he was the head coach of the girls’ basketball team for four years and boys’ head basketball coach for a year.
After that, Robey went to Aberdeen Central High School, where he served as girls’ and boys’ basketball head coach. He coached at Aberdeen for 14 years before he took the O’Gorman head coaching position.
Robey said being a player for Munsen was a plus.
“It definitely hasn’t hurt me,” Robey said. “He is a legend when it comes to South Dakota basketball and … with me being a 1983 graduate, Munsen has always been very supportive to me and he treats me with a lot of respect.”
Robey said one thing that’s stuck with him is the way Munsen treated him as a player.
“I was by no means a standout player when I was in high school,” Robey said. “I was just proud to be a part of Munsen’s team. My role was very limited, but what was unique about that was Munsen made me feel very special as a player … and I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
“I loved everything from the smell of the Corn Palace to practicing there. Those are just highlights from my high school career.”
Robey said he’s aware that his alma mater is in the process of hiring a new boys’ basketball head coach, but it isn’t something he’s going to pursue.
“You know, it’s funny, I’ve been asked that probably about 500 times now since Munsen has announced his retirement,” Robey said.
“I’m honored that people even consider me for that position … the program that Munsen has created at Mitchell is the dynasty of double-A basketball. I would never say never, but at this point, it’s nothing I would be interested in.”
Robey has made a name for himself in the South Dakota basketball world and some may remember him as the coach who bested the legendary Munsen one final time, but Robey said he doesn’t see it that way.
“I don’t look at it as we ‘stole’ the title,” Robey said. “I’ve said this a hundred times, it wasn’t about Munsen, it wasn’t about me versus Munsen. I told my kids that’s not what this game was about. It was an opportunity for us to win another state title.”