We periodically feature the people from the OUSD and Oakland communities whose work positively impacts education for our public school students every day.

This month, we’re featuring Lamont Robinson Jr. from the Oakland Athletic League (OAL), which oversees all Oakland Unified School District high school and middle school sports programs. The Mission of the OAL Middle School Sports League is to provide all students with a robust sports program that is inclusive and equitable for all students to develop self-confidence, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and leadership by providing quality athletic educational programs.

What is Your Name and Title? 

Lamont Robinson Jr., Oakland Athletic League Commissioner

What is the Oakland Athletic League (OAL)? 

Our office is designed to manage sports at all Oakland Unified School District high schools, and we’re tied to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body for all high school sports in the state; and to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHA), which sets the rules for all high school sports. We now have sports in every OUSD high school.

We also manage OUSD middle school sports. We’ve made our middle school program a hub for developing and fostering talent in those students so they have confidence in their skills to stay and play for OUSD high school teams.

What is your background?

I’m a District baby—I grew up around sports, went to OUSD schools, and graduated from Oakland Tech. On top of that, my grandmother was an administrator for 30 years, and my grandfather was a principal at McClymonds High School and the OAL Commissioner.

I benefited from a strong support system from those around me who provided guidance and kept me on the right path. Coming of age in the District and Oakland, I’ve gained insights into the challenges our community faces, their implications, and strategies to address them. Over the past two decades, I’ve been actively involved in serving the Oakland community that shaped me, and now, as commissioner, I find myself returning to where it all began, equipped with valuable experience. I’ve worked in the community and coached college football.

What led you to OAL?

In 2019, Franky Navarro took over as head OAL commissioner. He planned to develop and create new school programs and invigorate excitement around OUSD sports to get us back where we were. After I was hired as an assistant commissioner, Franky gave me the flexibility to be creative.

I have a mantra—I always want to create something so big that if it’s successful, it means the community is successful. Together, we created the OAL Task Force to identify gaps and begin creating opportunities for students. We now offer 13 different sports across 34 schools. Participation keeps growing, especially in the number of female participants—which has increased by 30 percent over four years! This is exciting to see, especially because I’m a girl dad. In fact, all of the people on our OAL team have daughters who play sports.

What is your favorite part of your work?

We have a beautiful team, with a wealth of experience and knowledge, and different skill sets, and we’re all creative and hold each other accountable. It’s fun to have a great foundation of folks on the same page about where to go and how we want to get there. Everyone in this office went to OUSD schools. We’re all grounded and rooted in Oakland, and we understand that it takes more than just us.

This isn’t a job for me. It’s another day to build our plan for sustainability in our league. Having a strong team that is down for the people is the best thing about this job. Relationships are the key, and without the support of brothers, sisters, and corporate and community partners we can’t do this job.

What are your favorite sports?

I played football for Oakland Tech and am passionate about watching basketball! I’ve also grown to love girls’ volleyball and girls’ soccer. I love the process athletes go through as they develop their skills and the way they go through trials and experience success to create something beautiful. We understand that you have to do the work, and the work can be fun.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

For me, if I can be a little selfish, my proudest moment is being able to live and take over what I saw my family working toward when I was growing up, and making my family proud. I also love seeing the faces of kids playing the games, and talking with coaches and their excitement that so many kids are showing up to play. I love seeing what our work does. It confirms that this is exactly why we’re here!

What are your hopes for the future of Oakland and Oakland schools?

My hope is for Oakland to unify around students and focus on giving them opportunities. Sports are a great tool for unifying, bringing people together, and learning teamwork, perseverance, and so many other practical skills. I know it’s a long task—to create the blueprint for a unified approach—but we can do it!

Our OAL team is just one example. We want to do our best to make sure our community has what they need to have a shot so our students come back! I think people are stepping up and showing up. We appreciate those folks, and it’s a credit to the community for supporting our vision and mission. They make it possible to move as swiftly as we have in the past five years. We don’t take our job lightly.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I like to spend my free time with my family. My kids are my world, and my family and community mean everything to me. And if I’m going to be honest, the other way I spend my free time is—working! That’s why I say I love this job because I love creating. This work allows me to be creative. I’m always thinking of something I want to do—and we just dive in and create ideas, programs, and anything we can think of to make our communities better.

I also like to travel with family, especially to developing countries, where I can come back and appreciate what I’ve got. It’s humbling! When I retire, I’d like to bring my knowledge and experience to places that need my skills and ideas, but don’t have the means to do the work themselves.

Support OAL Middle School Sports

We need fundraising help for three things: 1) transportation costs, which have become a significant barrier to participation, 2) increasing staffing support for our programs, and 3) growing our internship program.  We are ready to do more and need to bring on more adults and youth talent to achieve our goals.  For the first time, thanks to an investment by the Oakland Ed Fund and another funder, we are starting our inaugural internship program for high school students to gain real-time experience in sports programming and business operations. After we pilot the internship program, we plan to grow it and bring on more students.

Oakland Athletic League Middle School Sports Programs

Learn More About OAL Middle School Sports
Visit the website at https://oakmssports.org/

View original article at https://www.oaklandedfund.org/2024/03/21/lamont-robinson-jr/

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