Robert Washington was a student athlete at Dorsey High School, graduating in 1986. (Courtesy photo)

The Dorsey Dons boys’ basketball team will be heading into a new era as Robert Washington was recently hired as their head coach.

Washington, an alum of Dorsey High School, played for the JV and Varsity boys basketball team. He also coached Dorsey’s softball and JV baseball teams. Prior to his return to Dorsey, Washington was at the helm of the Downtown Magnet boys’ basketball team. He was Varsity coach there since 2016.

During the 2018-2019 season, he led the Suns to a 14-9 overall record, earning a spot in the Wild Card round of the Division III playoffs.

“We had winning records each of the three years that I coached there,” Washington said. “I think my overall record there was 39-27.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic protocols, Washington has not formally met with the Dons boys’ basketball team. However, Washington has scouted his fellow opponents in the Coliseum league and beyond.

“I know that Washington and View Park, Crenshaw have strong teams and I know that King/Drew also has a strong team,” Washington said. “I just know every school in the inner city is gonna be tough.”

An alum of West L.A. College and Cal State Dominguez Hills, Washington worked with the After School Youth Services Program in the L.A. Unified School District. He was soon promoted to a playground supervisor and organized basketball tournaments for the students.

Washington coached flag football, softball, and baseball. He also has experience coaching children of various ages. When he was coaching multiple teams at the same time, he would combine his teams together for practice sessions.

Washington coached at Downtown Magnet prior to taking the job at Dorsey(Courtesy photo)

“At one point, I was coaching four teams all by myself,” he said. “We all practice on the blacktop at 59th Street Elementary.”

He had certain goals that if he did not accomplish them as a player, he would as a coach. While Washington feels that he is still developing as a coach, the positive reactions that he gets from his former players are reassuring.

“One of the things that touch my heart is a lot of them say ‘those were the best years of my life,’” Washington said about his former players. “That really hits home, that’s when I know I was doing the right thing.”

While getting wins are important, Washington desires to use basketball to teach his student athletes life lessons. He wants his student athletes to have fun while playing basketball.

Many of his coaching mentors are his high school coaches, like Washington Prep Football coach Paul Knox, Ralph Tilly, and former Dorsey boys basketball coach Kevin Gibson.

A big influence on Washington’s life is his mother who passed away earlier this year. When he was hired to coach for Dorsey on the day of his birthday, Washington knew that his career at the high school was his destiny.

“I look up on it as her way of looking down upon me and saying ‘You know I may not be here but this is your birthday gift,’” he said. “You get the job you always coveted and wanted.”