Winning career starts at Emporia
Nearly 15 years ago, Jory Collins stepped on to the Emporia State campus as an undergraduate. Since then, he has put down roots in the Emporia community, marrying fellow ESU alum Casey Wilson and sending the Lady Hornet basketball team to their second MIAA Tournament Championship.
After leading the team to a 30-4 season, their second and a fourth straight trip to the title game, Collins, head coach, was named the Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division II Region 7 Coach of the Year.
“Getting a coaching award sounds great and all but there are a lot of people that go into that,” Collins said. “It should be a great recruiting award and a great hiring of your staff award. You don’t get a coaching award unless the team and everybody else does a great job.”
In his fourth year as head coach, Collins has and impressive 96-31 record and is the first coach in ESU history to advance to four conference tournaments and three regional championships in those four years, according to the Emporia website.
“Coach Collins has done a fantastic job for us these last few years and is someone that I really enjoy working with,” said Kent Wesier, executive director of intercollegiate athletics. “He is a very talented coach and has the balance you need for student athletes. He is concerned with their academic success as much as their athletic success.”
The ESU graduate has been apart of the Lady Hornet basketball team for nearly 14 years, starting as student assistant back in 2001, and only taking a year break to get his master’s degree in educational administration from ESU in 2006.
“This is the only thing I know,” Collins said. “I have had every job here from doing laundry to practice player to full-time head coach.”
Collins is now one of eight finalists to receive the inaugural Pat Summitt Trophy that is given to the 2014 Russell Athletic/WBCA NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year.
“Jory always pushes me to my potential and expects perfection out of all his players. He is a great coach that holds his players accountable on and off the court,” said Merissa Quick, junior forward and crime and delinquency studies major. “He really tries to make personal relationships with all of his players and is always around to help us.”
With success comes opportunity, but Collins said he has no current plans of leaving because of the importance of women’s basketball at Emporia. He said he has one of the top 50 jobs in women’s basketball because his team plays in front 2,000 fans on average, and that’s “pretty unheard of at this level.”
“When big opportunities come up, I want him to look at them. I would want all our coaches to look at them, you do what is best for them and their family,” Weiser said. “I want it to be a heck of a good opportunity, though. I want to make this job as good as it can be, and show him that we appreciate him and want him to stay here.”
Collins said he plans on raising his two boys, Jett and Jude, in the community that has supported him for the last 15 years.