Man cave pays tribute to Duluth athletesRICK LUBBERS: Tom Robillard’s infamous fortress of sports solitude now spills into the second portion of his two-stall garage, thanks to a deluge of memorabilia that poured into the Hermantown home that he shares with his wife.
By: Rick Lubbers, Duluth News Tribune
The Northland’s grandest man cave just got a little bigger.
Tom Robillard’s infamous fortress of sports solitude now spills into the second portion of his two-stall garage, thanks to a deluge of memorabilia that poured into the Hermantown home that he shares with his wife, Barb — all begging for a spot on his wall of fame.
He placed as many contributions as possible on the walls and ceiling of his spacious garage, pushing his tool box to the back.
With his garage space nearly maxed out, “Roby” is now the curator of a museum-worthy collection of local sports memorabilia. Robillard originally transformed the left stall into a lounge area stuffed with TVs and easy chairs, a couch, fridge and microwave. The walls he plastered with sports memories and heroes.
But even though Robillard, 60, created the next best thing to living on the set of ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” the plain right stall begged for an upgrade.
“Let’s recognize a lot of the area athletes that we have,” Robillard thought, and once he shared that idea with some friends, it didn’t take long for those tributes to show up at his garage door. “The response was just fabulous. You can see what was all donated to me. It’s pretty much been word of mouth.”
The retired former owner of Roby’s Bar & Lounge estimates that there are nearly 200 photos alone hanging on the walls of that second stall. Many sports jerseys and T-shirts also are draped overhead.
The subjects range from recent Hobey Baker Award winners Jack Connolly and Drew LeBlanc to photos of the Duluth Dukes and Duluth Eskimos. Former Minnesota Duluth and NHL great Brett Hull is prominently featured, too, as is legendary UMD football coach Jim Malosky.
“It’s a tribute to so many good athletes around here who actually were really interested in being a part of it,” Robillard said. “I really didn’t expect this many. I really didn’t.”
Some of Robillard’s own athletic achievements are highlighted, such as the 1972 Itasca Community College men’s hockey team that won the state and national junior college championships and earned him the title of All-American.
In honor of Stewart-Taylor’s 1988 ASA Men’s Fastpitch National Championship, the folks at Stewart-Taylor Printing sent a sign officially naming Robillard’s man cave: Roby’s Northland Connection Wall of Fame.
Robillard held an open garage gathering a few weeks back to proudly show off the new wing and thank everyone for their contributions and time spent helping him create it.
“I’ve had a lot of people donating their time to paint and help put up pictures,” he said.
But Robillard probably isn’t finished. There is still the back wall of the right stall to fill — meaning all his tools are destined for a new home — and he dreams of putting a large UMD Bulldog logo across the floor.
“I’ve still got more room,” he said. “It gets in your blood after a while. Just turns into a passion.”
Contact News Tribune sports editor Rick Lubbers at firstname.lastname@example.org or (218) 723-5317. Follow him @ricklubbersdnt on Twitter.