Mercer County’s Seygan Robins’ long road to basketball success

March 11, 2017 FieldsColumn

Seygan Robins of Mercer County drives against Lex Mayes of Murray during Saturday’s Sweet Sixteen semifinals. (Photo by Jim Osborn)

BY MIKE FIELDS

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – For high school basketball players, the road to success and scholarships isn’t a direct route.

It’s not a dribble drive straight to the hoop for an easy score.

The destination isn’t always the big stage of the Sweet Sixteen to compete for a big trophy, and glory for your team, school and community.

It’s a long journey with detours and disappointments. Sacrifice and hard work are constant companions.

But there’s lots of fun and friendships along the way, too, and it’s best if your family is along for the ride.

That’s the way it has been for Mercer County junior standout Seygan Robins, who’s playing in the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen this week.

Seygan and her Titan teammates are in the state tournament for the third year in a row, and they’ll play for the state championship Sunday afternoon.

For Seygan, who’s already earned a scholarship to the University of Louisville, the trip to now started a long time ago.

Marta and Brandon Robins

Marta and Brandon Robins, Seygan’s parents, say she started playing basketball in a Mercer County recreation league when she was 4, with her older brother Tanner. Mom was their coach.

By the time Seygan was in first grade, her uncle, Todd Claunch, a no-nonsense teacher of the game, started coaching her.

In her fourth- and fifth-grade years, she played on boys’ teams. That sped up her development.

As an eighth-grader, Seygan made the Kentucky Premier AAU team, and that’s when basketball got serious for her. She had already given up soccer and softball to concentrate on hoops; now she was giving up her summers, too.

Seygan readily accepted the life of a high-performance athlete.

“She’s very quiet by nature, but very competitive, too,” her mom said. “She’s always been driven, even at a young age.”

Where does that drive come from?

“Just a love for the game,” Seygan said. “If you don’t love it, it’s not going to come to you.

“A lot of people see us playing and might think it’s easy, but there’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes — late nights in the gym, early morning practices.

“There are a ton of sacrifices, but basketball is definitely No. 1 and you have to put it before other things if you want to be great.”

Seygan played some varsity ball for Mercer County as a seventh-grader, and she’s been a prime player for the Titans the last four years.

Brandon Robins remembers when he first realized his daughter was a special player. “When she was in eighth grade, she had a real good game against Boyle County in the first round of the region,” he said. “That was the first time I thought, ‘Holy cow! She’s pretty good.'”

Mercer County’ coach, Chris Souder, is Seygan’s uncle. (He’s married to Marta’s sister, Carmen.) He doesn’t go easy on his niece. Like Uncle Todd, Uncle Chris is an intense coach. And that’s the way she likes it.

“I like them getting up in my face; that motivates me,” she said. “That’s why I like (U of L’s) Jeff Walz as a coach. He’s intense all the time. It started with my Uncle Todd, and now Coach Souder is always hard on me, and that’s why I’m where I’m at.”

Counting high school and summer AAU, Seygan has probably played close to 300 games over the past five years.

“My mom and dad have put in a lot of time and a lot of road trips, and I’m really thankful to have them,” she said.

Seygan has played in seven Sweet Sixteen games over the last three years and has scored 130 points, including 16 in Saturday’s semifinal victory over Murray.

That put Mercer County in the state finals, with a chance to reach the top of girls’ basketball in Kentucky.

So who’s more excited? Seygan, or her mom and dad?

“I’d say them,” Seygan said with a laugh. “They’ll probably be pretty hyped when we get back to the hotel tonight.”