Former NBA superstar Michael Jordan has had a lot of inspirational quotes over his historic basketball career. Jordan's words have surely inspired other athletes to strive for greatness.
One Michael Jordan quote in particular seemed to hit home for Jim Thorpe senior guard Celeste Robinson heading into her final season. "My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength," Jordan explained.
Robinson raised her basketball game to another level in her senior year by adding a mid-range jump shot which made defenses respect her on the perimeter. It helped her become the best girls basketball player in Jim Thorpe history.
Robinson's hard work, dedication, and overall talent has earned her the 2012 TIMES NEWS area Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
"Coming into my senior year I watched so many tapes of myself and I decided there were certain things I was doing wrong and I wanted to correct them," said Robinson. "I reached out to some people and with the help of coach Kovac we really started to develop my game in a way where people couldn't just say I was a one dimensional player anymore. Turning my weaknesses into strengths was of the utmost importance."
Jim Thorpe head coach Rob Kovac saw the potential in Robinson from the start and has noticed the vast improvements she has made since her freshman season.
"Celeste is one of the hardest working girls I've ever coached and she's just a great kid," said Kovac. "In all my years of coaching I've never seen a girl improve her game more than Celeste. She has really become a more complete offensive player with the development of her jump shot and defensively she had gotten so much better. She was the catalyst in our pressure defense this season and frustrated a lot of teams with her length and ability to get her hands in the passing lanes."
Robinson's improvements put her in an elite class of basketball players and also earned her some impressive post-season accolades.
She led the Schuylkill League and TIMES NEWS area in scoring at 24.5 points per game. Robinson also became Jim Thorpe's all-time leading score amassing 1,691 points in her career.
Robinson's most impressive honor came a couple of weeks ago when she was chosen to the Pennsylvania Girls Basketball Class AAA First Team. She became the first ever Jim Thorpe girls basketball player to earn All-State accolades in 2011, when she made the Class AAA third team, but once again improved her status gaining first team honors.
"The night I set the record I didn't even know it. I know it sounds weird because they even had a countdown and everything. I was just into the game and if they didn't call a timeout I would have kept playing like nothing ever happened," said Robinson.
"As for making All-State I didn't think I was going to make it because we didn't qualify for states," said Robinson. "We expected a lot from ourselves and when we didn't make it as far as we expected to go it hurt. I just know that there's no way I could have made All-State without my teammates and coaches."
Celeste's individual awards are certainly notable. What really is amazing about Robinson's senior campaign is what she and her teammates on the 2011-12 Lady Olympians basketball team were able to accomplish. This year's JT girls basketball team won over 20 games, qualified for the Schuylkill League playoffs for the first time in school history, and made it to the consolation game in the highly talented District 11 AAA bracket. They packed the gym on a nightly basis and brought excitement and passion to the Jim Thorpe community
"I can't express how great it felt to get the praise we got from people in school and in the community," said Robinson. "We wanted everyone to jump on our bandwagon and that's exactly what happened. The support at all our games, especially during playoffs, was amazing and I can't thank the people in our community enough for supporting us."
Robinson will now move on from Jim Thorpe to attend Division 2 Millersville University. The decision was a tough one and after a deal with Division 1 Siena fell through after the school administrators decided to fire the head coach, Millersville came back into the fold.
"It was kind-of funny how everything worked out because Millersville was there in the beginning of my recruiting process," said Robinson. "After everything didn't work out with Siena we got back in contact with each other and I went for a visit and loved it. They created a schedule that was tailor made for me both academically and physically. At the end of the day, it felt like the perfect fit."