Updates at 4:40 p.m. with new version:
GREENSBORO — The past week wasn’t the first time Doug Robertson talked to officials at Page High School about becoming the Pirates’ head football coach. But it was the right time.
Page principal Erik Naglee and athletics director Matt Harder announced today that Robertson will become the Pirates’ coach.
Robertson had discussions with Page officials back in 2017 after Kevin Gillespie left to become coach at Asheboro. He opted to stay at Eastern Guilford at that time, and the Pirates hired Jared Rolfes, who was not retained after his teams went 20-17 in three seasons. After one more year at Eastern, Robertson left to become head coach at Thomasville and had back-to-back 8-4 seasons.
“Timing is everything, and the timing this time was better for one reason or another,” Robertson said today. “It just felt like at the time when I was at Eastern Guilford we just weren’t quite finished with what we planned to do. It wasn’t the right time to leave Eastern, not that any time is a good time when you like a place.”
After guiding the Wildcats to the 2016 NCHSAA Class 3-AA championship game, Robertson took Eastern to the 2017 East regional final before moving on to Thomasville. One of the attractions of the Thomasville job was that it is the only high school in the Thomasville City Schools district and has much more flexibility in terms of salary and job responsibilities than a high school in a district with multiple schools.
Page can’t pay Robertson as much as Thomasville did, but he said the decision he and his wife, Erin, made for their family was not about money.
“It’s not a secret that in public education you’re not going to get rich,” he said. “You don’t do it for the money, but you do have to take care of your family. Talking to my wife and having those conversations, we just felt like for our family, with our son a rising ninth-grader next year, it’s a good time for this and the money was not going to be a part of that conversation.”
Their son, Tate, is an eighth-grader at Thomasville Middle School who will enroll at Page in August and eventually play football for his dad. Erin Robertson works in Greensboro, so the move will be more convenient and reduce driving time from their home in Rockingham County, where daughter Taylor is a senior.
Robertson said the similarities between Reidsville, where he guided the Rams to the NCHSAA Class 2-A championship in 2009 and his teams went 36-7 in three seasons, and the Page community played a role in his decision to coach the Pirates.
“I’ve always liked to be around a diverse group of students,” he said. “That’s what I enjoy, and that’s kind of what I grew up in around Reidsville. I see (Page) as a bigger Reidsville, if that makes sense, and it’s something I’m very comfortable with.”
Robertson added that “the makeup of the kids at the school allows you to have a chance to be good in football every year.”
That’s the expectation for a Page program that won a Class 4-AA championship in 2011 and reached the state final in 2015 and 2016.
“The tradition is very similar to a place like Reidsville,” Robertson said. “The emphasis on wanting to be good from an administrative level, with Mr. Naglee and Coach Harder, down to the alumni and everybody around the program wanting to be good, is certainly attractive to a football coach. I want to be at a place where expectations are high and excellence is demanded.”
The first step toward meeting those expectations is building relationships with the Page players. Robertson will meet with players and parents at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Mac Morris Gymnasium to lay out his plans for the program.
“I have to get to know the kids and to make sure that we have the (coaching) staff in place that the kids deserve,” he said. “Obviously, earning the trust of the players is a big thing. Any time somebody knew comes in there’s a sense of excitement, but also there’s some anxiety that something new is happening and not knowing how it affects you individually as a player.
“The challenge is getting the program back on its feet after it’s been down for a couple of years as far as Page standards go.”
GREENSBORO — Page's search for a new head football coach is over. Doug Robertson, whose team won a state championship at Reidsville and reached a state final at Eastern Guilford, has agreed to take over the Pirates' program, the school announced today.
Robertson has spent the last two seasons at Thomasville, where he took over a program that went 2-8 in 2017 and guided the Bulldogs to back-to-back 8-4 seasons.
Robertson succeeds Jared Rolfes, who was not retained after going 20-17 in three seasons.
“We were very impressed with what Coach Robertson stood for both as an educator and as a football coach during our search for the prestigious Page High football coaching position," Page principal Erik Naglee said in a news release. "Coach Robertson has had years of experience molding students and student-athletes inside the classroom at the high school level. We look forward to the presence he will bring to our football program as well as the entirety of Page High School. This will help carry on the rich tradition of academic and athletic excellence at Page High.”
A native of Reidsville, Robertson graduated from Reidsville High, where he was a two-time all-conference lineman. He went on to attend Guilford College, where he earned second-team All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference honors in 1996 and first-team All-ODAC in 1997. He earned a master's degree at Delta State in Cleveland, Miss., and served as a graduate assistant with a football program that won the NCAA Division II championship in 2000.
Robertson served as defensive coordinator at Reidsville from 2001 to 2008, and the Rams won four state championships during that time. He took over as head coach in 2009 and guided Reidsville to the 2009 NCHSAA Class 2-AA championship and went 37-8 in three seasons at his alma mater.
Robertson spent one year at Person County in 2012 before coaching Eastern Guilford from 2013 to 2017. He guided the Wildcats to a 15-1 record and a berth in the NCHSAA Class 3-AA championship game in 2016. A year later, Robertson led Eastern Guilford to the 3-AA East regional final.
He spent the last two years at Thomasville. Robertson is a N.C. Football Coaches Association board member and will be the West head coach for the 2020 N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star game.
“Coach Robertson’s decorated coaching background will be a tremendous asset to our football program at Page," athletics director Matt Harder said in the news release. "He is among the most respected football coaches at both the high school and college coaching levels based on his dedication and success working with student-athletes on and off the field. We look forward to adding to the rich tradition at Page High School with him leading our football program for years to come.”
Doug and his wife, Erin, have two children. His daughter, Taylor, is graduating high school this year, and his son, Tate, will start high school at Page in the fall.
Page players and parents will have an opportunity to meet Robertson at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Mac Morris Gymnasium.