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What Duce Means

By Duce Robinson

The ball snapped with two seconds on the play clock. Hard off the line, break inside. Dart to find the open zone. The ball zips, falls heavy through two hands into the chest. My dad took a big hit but held on when it mattered. Known as the shot before the shot heard ‘round the world, my dad — Dominic Robinson — helped Florida State win in Gainesville during the historic 2003 Sunshine Showdown.

A dual-sport athlete at FSU, my dad has always been electric, whether on the field or on the diamond. His energy in the locker room, his team-first legacy runs deep. But to me, he was just dad, and often, Coach. Growing up under the cactus-sharp Arizona sun, I absorbed his passion and determination. My mom, a swimmer at the University of Florida, matched his intensity and competitiveness. Despite their athletic accomplishments, both taught me a sunny mentality: always look on the bright side, something I carry with me to this day. In the face of adversity, we always find a way to see the blessing, an opportunity with a bold silver lining, to make ourselves better as athletes and people.

From the beginning, I wanted to follow in my parents’ footsteps, blending athletic prowess and sportsmanship into my journey. But following a similar path doesn’t mean you can’t make your own impact. I played early and often, trying as many sports as I could before honing in on the two that brought me the most joy. Football and baseball have become my twin passions, each one enhancing my skills and fueling my competitive spirit.

At USC, I’ve embraced the challenges of being a dual-sport athlete. My teammates and their families have sacrificed a lot for the privilege of these long days. Time never stops, so neither does hustling. My mornings begin before sunrise, pushing past limits at the gym, followed by classes, football drills, and afternoons on the diamond. Every day tests my resolve — a relentless pursuit of excellence. The support from my coaches and teammates fuels my drive, pushing me to leave everything between the lines.

Balancing football and baseball, especially in the spring, often meant four or five days a week of practices and games. Typically, my day started with football practice in the morning, then class, hitting in the cages on my own, attending meetings, and finally driving to the evening baseball games. This routine, though exhausting, never felt like a burden because each moment brought me immense happiness. The laughter in the locker room, high-fives on the field, and shared excitement after a great play – these moments make all the hard work worth it.

More than the victories, I play these sports for the joy they bring. Every day, every practice, every game feels fun. Just the other day, I had a baseball game, and the joy of just being out there and playing was beyond measure. In our most recent football game, the Holiday Bowl, I got to see so many of my teammates shine and it still brings a smile to my face thinking about  everything we accomplished together. Seeing teammates make the most of their chances was super cool and inspiring. This joy keeps me grounded and grateful, reminding me why I love these sports.

Many people face tougher challenges, and this perspective keeps me humble and grateful. I strive to set an example for my younger brothers, showing them that with hard work and a positive mindset, anything is possible. Open and honest communication has been a cornerstone of my success. Being upfront with coaches, teammates, and family about my goals and challenges helps me stay focused and foster stronger relationships.

Those moments when everything clicks, the crowd roars, and you feel unstoppable – that’s why I play. It’s about capturing the magic in the moment, finding joy in the journey. In the face of uncertainty, I choose to see the good, embrace the challenge, and rise above it. 

Whether it’s a touchdown or a homerun, or all the unseen minutes in the weight room, watching film, on the practice field that lead to those moments, as long as I’m feeling joy when I step on to both of those fields I’m going to keep doing exactly what I was named to do.


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