A third-generation coach and former Alto linebacker, Eric Robinson has known for years that an athletic director job was his ultimate goal.

The veteran defensive coordinator and special teams coach has reached that goal as Beckville's new head football coach and AD after serving on Scott Surratt's staff at Carthage. Robinson said his grandfather and father coached for three decades apiece.

"I was a fieldhouse rat," said Robinson, who played for Lucky Gamble at Alto, where he teamed with former Texas A&M linebacker Brian Gamble.

Robinson, who played college football at SFA, was part of a Carthage staff that led the Bulldogs to three consecutive Class 3A Division II state championships, a run Robinson called "a once-in-two-lifetimes thing.” Robinson said the staff at Carthage and his experience playing for Lucky Gamble combined with his family ties to coaching to influence him greatly.

"When you surround yourself with good coaches, all you see is good coaching. That's all you're used to," Robinson said. "That makes you want to find guys like that to coach with you. In this business, you're only as good as the coaches around you."

Robinson said his experiences at Carthage were the culmination of a lot of people working together, not just talent on the field.

"You've got to have the right people, the right kids, the right teachers and the right administration," Robinson said.

Robinson, who plans to continue calling his team's defensive plays, has learned the differences in being an assistant coach and an athletic director. He has responsibilities to more people and must find solutions to more problems.

"I've learned as an athletic director, all you are is just a problem-solver. It's just one after the next. You just kind of go to the next one on the list," Robinson said. "I think that's what coaches are, too. If you've got a problem, you've got to fix it, whether it's on the field or with kids."

Robinson takes over a Beckville program that has made back-to-back playoff appearances, but has gone 7-15 during that span. The Bearcats also face a tough district schedule that includes Carlisle, Big Sandy, and 2A-to-1A movers Joaquin and Harleton.

Robinson knows it won't be easy, but his focus is competing in the short term to improve in the long term.

"Our goals are we want to compete and win at everything we do, no matter what it is," Robinson said. "Our goal is to be peaking every week and make sure we're getting better. I think if we're doing that we can't complain.

"As long as we're getting better and having fun doing it, that's fine. If we play our best and somebody just beats us, I'm not going to complain about that. We're just trying to build the kids’ mentality."