Sports

Collins returns to coach Falcon boys basketball

Scott Collins - Photo courtesy of Scott Collins
Scott Collins
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Scott Collins

Scott Collins wants the South Whidbey boys basketball team to play like they practice, so they run, a lot.

Collins’ name and face may be familiar to South Whidbey residents. He coached the Falcons back in 2007 until 2009. He had hoped to secure a teaching job in the district, but stepped down as coach to take a teaching job at Oak Harbor High School when a position here didn’t materialize.

South Whidbey Athletic Director Kelly Kirk hired Collins to replace Henry Pope who died from heart complications in July. Collins knew him and he came back both “out of respect” for Pope and because of a longing to be on the court at Erickson Gym.

“After a while, you can’t ignore the fact you need to be coaching,” said Collins, 34.

“I regret leaving the first time. I’m planning on staying a while this time.”

Other than the head coach, other team leadership positions are the same as last year. Jeff Hanson will lead the junior varsity program and Tim Collins — no relation — will coach the C team. After the devastating loss of Pope, keeping some continuity in the program was important to Kirk and South Whidbey High School. Bringing in Scott Collins, who had some name recognition with the older players, helped restore that stability.

“He had a sense of what the South End of the island is like, what the school’s like and the culture,” Kirk said of Collins. “That really gave him an inside track.”

Players praised Collins for bringing a competitive spirit to drills and practices. When they rehearse plays, either on defense or offense, they get scored throughout a practice. Games will be scored, and Collins wanted to instill a competitive nature in the team as early as he could.

“Anything we can do where there are winners and losers, we try to incorporate into our practices,” Collins said.

That philosophy, though perhaps not entirely prolific on South Whidbey, is a trademark of Collins’ coaching style. It was learned from one of the best in Washington state high school boys basketball history, Mac Fraser — the longtime Mount Vernon High School coach who was inducted into the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association hall of fame in 2005.

Collins, who lives in Burlington and still teaches at Oak Harbor High School, is back at South Whidbey working to bring the basketball program into the forefront of the 1A scene with goals of state tournaments in the near future. To do so, he hopes to find a teaching job at the high school soon. And, unlike the last time he left the Falcons, which compiled a 25-19 overall record during his two seasons, he will wait around more than a couple of years if the job doesn’t materialize.

Until then, Collins is in charge of invigorating a program that suddenly lost its coach, a program that saw students with a long history of playing basketball sit out the sport and others quit midway through the season. South Whidbey’s athletic director thinks he found the right person.

“I’m always looking for somebody who’s enthusiastic about the sport, somebody who’s looking at building a program, not just a team,” Kirk said.

 

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