Meet the Robinsons: How Black history, Brock University impacted one Badger family

It was a proud moment for a pair of Brock alumni.

Todd (BEd ’95) and Shelley (BPhEd ’96) Robinson witnessed their sons, Kersey and KJ, step onto the court as members of the Brock men’s volleyball team this season — following in their footsteps of competing for the same school they once did.

In the 1990s, Todd played for the men’s volleyball team and Shelley swam for the varsity swim team.

“It seems a suitable piece to the puzzle to have both boys playing for Brock University,” said Todd, calling it “very special” to have Kersey and KJ “experience the privilege of being student-athletes at the same university as us.”

It’s an opportunity for the younger Robinsons to continue playing the sport they love, Todd said.

“I’m sure that they will recognize a deeper connection when looking back at these years.”

Kersey, a third-year Accounting (Co-op) student who joined Brock during the COVID-19 pandemic, was joined this season by KJ, a first-year Critical Criminology student.

“It’s special to get to share the same experience our dad did when he was in school,” said Kersey. “It’s a privilege to play post-secondary sport and to do it the way our dad did makes it that much better. Playing the same sport creates some friendly banter in the house and brings up good stories from the three of us.”

Todd and Shelley, who settled in St. Catharines following their time at Brock, have raised their children with an appreciation for family history as well as cultural heritage.

“Black history plays a role in our lives as it reminds us of our cultural roots,” Kersey said. “It creates a common understanding between all who recognize its importance and encourages equality both in sport and in life.”

Growing up in Dresden, Ont., Todd worked at Josiah Henson Museum of African-Canadian History, which was formerly known as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. His family also has Indigenous roots stemming from his maternal great grandmother, who was First Nations.

“I was a tour guide at the historical site located there. I also have family members who are very in touch with our family roots and have written books on this topic, so I have a healthy appreciation for my cultural heritage,” he said. “In our attempt to raise well-adjusted and confident sons, we were careful to not only to get Kersey and KJ to recognize who they are and where they come from, but also to celebrate this diversity.”

Todd and Shelley, who hails from Sarnia, chose to start their life in the Niagara region after meeting each other at Brock. They both now work for the District School Board of Niagara.

“Brock University is essentially ground zero for our sons. It’s the place where Shelley and I met. We chose to stay in St. Catharines and raise our family here because of our affinity for the community,” Todd said.

Head coach Matt Ragogna said it’s truly special to have the Robinson family be a part of the Badgers’ program.

“Todd is such an amazing role model and ambassador for our program, and having a chance to have both his sons who I’ve coached growing up in their youth sport years has been such a positive experience,” Ragogna said. “Overall, the impact both boys have made in their time here truly defines our program values and commitment to student-athlete experiences on and off the court.”

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