Vikings new coach prepping for post-pandemic football
by Samantha Lyles
When the Pee Dee Vikings semi-pro football team returns to the field in August, they’re hoping to bring an energized and positive spectacle to fans starved for live sporting events. Part of that big energy will come from new head coach Lindsey Robertson, taking on that role at the request of team owner Jay Charles.
“Lindsey has been with us since the beginning and he knows all about how the team is run. I felt like he was a great candidate for the job,” says Charles. “I’ve known him for many years and he came from a similar background to me.”
In fact, Charles and Robertson squared off against each other in one of the Pee Dee’s most storied rivalries: Lindsey played for the Wilson High School Tigers, while Jay suited up for the Darlington High School Falcons.
Robertson played college ball at Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, and took a run at the pros after graduation. He tried out for a few NFL teams before embarking on a successful 16-year career in arena football where he won eight championships as a defensive back.
Upon moving home to the Florence area, Robertson linked up with Charles and several other local footballers to work out and keep their skills sharp. This led to the realization that many of them were still game-fit and hungry to compete, which inspired the group to establish the semi-pro Pee Dee Vikings football team in 2016.
Robertson was on board since the beginning as a linebacker coach / special teams coach, and added more shiny hardware to his collection when the Vikings won the Central Carolina Football League championship in January of 2019.
After this past season, which saw a performance dip due to roster changes, Charles decided to step away from coaching and concentrate his energies on team owner/management duties. Because of his deep football background and sure-handed coaching, Robertson seemed a perfect choice to step in as head coach, and says he “jumped at it” when Charles offered him the job.
“Honestly, I was excited. It touched me because it let me know that those guys believe in me and believe in my ideas and the way I talk with the players,” says Robertson, who is known for his high-energy at game time.
“I’m the livest guy on the field,” he says with a laugh. “But I also carry the most passion for the game…the way I coach is the way played, and it’s how I am as a person. I’m always gonna go hard.”
The Vikings are hoping that Robertson’s electric presence – along with a refocusing on local gridiron talent – will translate into a winning season when play begins on August 1. At this point, players are meeting for regular conditioning workouts with precautions in place to reduce potential coronavirus exposure. Just how the pandemic will affect the upcoming season in terms of attendance, concessions, travel, and other issues is yet unknown. Charles says that league leadership are still holding meetings and hammering out procedures to keep players and fans safe.
Since live sporting events have been on pause since March, Robertson believes the community’s hunger for athletic competition will be peaking by the time the Vikings take the field at Darlington’s Virgil Wells Stadium, and he intends to make each game a fun and exciting experience for fans of all ages.
“Everything is going to be on a positive level. It’s going to be an atmosphere where you can bring kids and the whole family can enjoy the great game of football,” says Robertson.
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