Coach’s faith puts him ‘back in the game’ at St. Mary’s

By Corey Poole

St. Mary’s announced its new Head Coach for the girls’ basketball team this fall.
Tom Collins’ passion for coaching and a calling from God led him out of his 7-year retirement from the Winn Parish educational system.

Collins is a 1980 graduate of Louisiana College. He served as Basketball Coach at Sikes High School from 1980-1982 and Basketball Coach at Atlanta High School from 1982-2012.

He retired after 29 years of coaching and three additional years of teaching. Working at a small school in the country, Collins coached and taught multiple teams and classes. In the summers and after he retired he worked in construction.
This hectic routine soon dragged him down and he enjoyed the slower pace of his retirement.

However, when God let he and his wife Angela know if was time to move, they chose Natchitoches. Collins, who has a niece and nephew enrolled at St. Mary’s, received a call from the school, which was looking for someone to fill a vacancy.

“I had a rest and I was ready to get back in it,” said Collins. “I was away from coaching long enough and this will be a fresh start for me.”

He’s looking forward to getting to know the St. Mary’s athletes over the summer and helping them become better people first, then better athletes.

“The way I coach is, I figure out their strengths, I look at their talent and I evaluate them to see what type of game we can play with the skill levels on the team,” he said. “It teaches discipline and it’s a game that can lead to greater things in life.”
Collins started studying commercial design when he first enrolled at the Louisiana College, but one thing led to another and he found his calling in education.

“God blessed me with a talent,” he said. “I can see and understand the flow of the game. It’s almost like I’m watching it in slo-motion and I can make adjustments during the game, which has helped me win a lot of games.”

Collins received many accolades during his tenure as basketball coach. He was inducted into the Louisiana College Sports Hall of Fame in October 2012. He also ranked as 20th in the nation of all-time wins among head basketball coaches, third in the history of Louisiana High School basketball and gained five state titles as part of his stellar record.
Not only did he receive District Coach of the Year for 20 years, he also received Louisiana State Coach of the Year for 9 years. Collin’s 29-year record in Boys’ Basketball proves his success as a basketball coach—892 wins and 258 losses.