Robert Hight was born without a right arm from the elbow down, and lost vision in his left eye
before age one. But he didn't let this
deter him from being involved in sports and
becoming one of the better all-around
athletes in Centralia.
At the age of eight he was the bat
boy for the Centralia Cubs in the
Mississippi Ohio Valley League. This
is where he met Fred Pearson, one of the
major influences in his life. At age
10 he played for Straith's Jewelers and hit
two homeruns in a game against the Salem
All-Stars. Hight says he was more
proud of the t-shirt that Mr. Straith had
given the players for their uniform than he
was of the homeruns. He wore that
t-shirt until it had more holes than cloth.
After Little League (age 11-12) and Pony
League Hight entered Centralia High School as a
Freshman during the 1954-1955 football
season. There was some controversy
about whether he should be allowed to play
football. His father, Cliff Hight, who
had played with Coach Jimmie Evers on the
CHS football team, convinced Evers to give his
son a chance. Evers went to the school
board and got them to agree to let Hight
play. He says this was a major turning
point in his life, and was so grateful to
Coach Evers for what he did for him.
He didn't play on the starting
freshman team, and felt the freshman coach
thought he would eventually quit along with
some of the other players. This just
made him more determined.
His sophomore season he broke his
collar bone in practice and missed the last
half of the season. His junior season
(1956) saw him begin his kicking
career. He was only the extra-point
kicker until the game with Marion.
When another player was injured Coach Evers
put him in on the kickoff team to begin the
second half. Hight made the tackle on
Marion's star halfback so hard it put the
Marion player out of the game. Hight
never sat out another kickoff on any
team he played on after that.
His senior season (1957) he handled
all the kicking duties. He is second
on the CHS career extra-point list with 47,
and third and fifth on the season
extra-point list with 26 and 21. The
1956 team was South Seven Conference
Champions, finishing the season undefeated
at 8-0-1 . The 1957 team, was also
undefeated conference champions, finishing
the season 7-1-1.
Hight participated on CHS track teams
for four years and became an accomplished
In 1959 and 1960 he lettered in
baseball at Centralia Junior College (now
KC) under Coach Chuck Mundell. Hight
says Coach Mundell was a big influence in
his decision to become an educator.
After going through the same problems
he had at the beginning of high school, he
was cleared to play football at SIU.
He lettered four years and at one time held
SIU records for most field goals, most
extra-points, and longest field goal. Hight was an All-Conference kicker in 1961
and held a NCAA record for fewest return
yards per kickoff for a season (3.2).
He is a member of the SIU all-decade team
for the 1960's.
In the summer of 1963 he played
centerfield for the Beardstown Merchants and
the Quincy All-Stars in the Northern
Illinois Industrial Fast-Pitch Softball
Hight signed with the Buffalo Bills
of the AFL in 1965, and spent the season on
the taxi squad. He was featured in a
published history of the Bills written by
Jeffrey Miller. In 1966 he won a
national field-goal kicking contest
sponsored by the Dallas Cowboys, and was
then signed by the Cowboys. After
kicking a 55-yard field goal in a rookie
game against the L.A. Rams he was sidelined
by a leg injury. He was traded to
Atlanta and later released.
After his release he began his
coaching career, first at Effingham, IL High
School (1966-67 through 1969-70 as an
assistant (line coach) under former
Centralian Jack Klosterman.
Hight was also freshman
basketball coach and head golf coach, where
he won conference championships twice and a district championship his last season.
Hight moved to Crystal Lake, IL
(Central) High School as the offensive
coordinator for the 1970 football season,
and stayed until taking the head football
coaching position at the new Crystal Lake
South High School for the 1978 season.
He garnered two Fox Valley Conference titles
and had playoff qualifying teams in 6 of 9
seasons, reaching the semi-finals in 1986,
his final season of coaching at CLS.
He was then named head coach of the East
team for the Illinois Shrine All-Str game in
Bloomington. Hight was named Northern
Illlinois Coach Of The Year by the Elgin
Daily Courier News in 1982, 1984, and
While still teaching at CLS he spent
2 years as offensive coordinator at Aurora
University, and was then named CLS athletic
director before retiring in 1994.
For 3 seasons (1971-1973), while
coaching and teaching at Crystal Lake, he
kicked for the Rockford Rams in the Central
States Football League. He kicked the
winning field goal in the league
championship game in 1972. He held the
league record for the longest field goal (55
yards) and most field goals in a
In 1973 Hight was to be a game-time
replacement for the injured George Blanda of
the Oakland Raiders. At the last
minute Blanda was able to play, and that was
the last chance Hight had to play in the
In 2008 Hight had his left knee and
hip replaced, giving him new life on the
golf course after 25 years. He is a
volunteer with the National Amputee Golf
Association, helping amputees find golf as a
recreational pursuit. Hight states,
"We have our own little golf
Hight is also the 2010 Arm Amputee
Champion of the Eastern Amputee Golf
Association Regional Championships held in
Pennsylvania. In September, 2009, he
tied for 10th in the North American One-Arm
Golf Association World Championships held in
West Palm Beach, Florida.
In 2012 Hight was recognized as a
distinguished alumnus by the Centralia High
School Alumni Association.