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Coach’s work lands him in spotlight

Claremont High School head football coach Mike Collins doesn’t look for the spotlight. But recently, the spotlight has found him.

ABC7 paid a visit to CHS on Wednesday to present Coach Collins with the ABC7-NFL Coach of the Week award and record footage to be played tonight on ABC’s Sports Zone show. The CHS football program is also receiving a $1000 grant from the National Football League’s Youth Football Fund.

“I am not deserving of this but my staff, athletic director [Rick Dutton] and my team is,” Coach Collins said during his interview segment. “The secret is my staff. I came here in 1994 and out of my varsity staff, 8 of them have been here with me for 17 years. We get a new set of players every 4 years [but] we get kids with integrity and great character. That makes football fun every year.”

According to ABC7 producer Mike Francis, high school coaches must be nominated to be selected as “Coach of the Week.” The producer revealed Mr. Dutton as the person who nominated Coach Collins.

“We get letters and emails sent in and we had one come from Rick Dutton talking about the good job Mike [Collins] does,” Mr. Francis said.

Mr. Dutton was a member of the interview panel that eventually gave the nod to Coach Collins 17 years ago. The athletic director coached with Coach Collins at one time and believes one of the coach’s best qualities is putting players first.

“First and foremost, he [Collins] cares deeply about the players—that’s his priority,” Mr. Dutton explained. “A lot of coaches let their ego get in the way but with Mike, there is no ego. He’s a great role model, honest and I’ve never had to watch out for Mike doing anything illegal from the day he was hired. He also knows the game and in the 17 years he has been here, I’ve never heard a football player say anything bad about him.”

Coach Collins has coached the Wolfpack to a 4-1 this season on the heels of a 7-4 playoff season in 2010. The coach guided the Pack to Baseline League championships in 2002 and 2003 and has graduated numerous players to Division I colleges with some ending up in the NFL such as current Seattle Seahawks tight end Cameron Morrah.

While Coach Collins would like to see his team earn a spot in the playoffs, he is more interested the ethical and social development of his players. He expects his players to display talent and character on the field and does not allow his players to use foul language.

“It show class and discipline to not cuss,” Coach Collins said. “I think success is when your kids have done everything to be successful with class and every day they are working hard in the classroom.”

Senior defensive tackle Davis Harrison believes what Coach Collins teaches off the field is as important as what happens on the field.

“You go into high school being immature and Coach Collins teaches you to be a man and be respectful,” Harrison said. “He’s going to get on you if you do something wrong but he’s not going to belittle you.”

Senior receiver Klyvens Delaunay feels Coach Collins’ recognition has been well overdue.

“He has taught me about toughness—you can’t take a play off with him [Collins],” he said. “When I got the award, I wasn’t surprised because he has been here so long and he’s been winning, so he deserves it.”

Coach Collins’ segment on Sports Zone will air tonight after ABC7’s College Football Game of the Week at approximately 9:15 p.m.

—Landus Rigsby

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