Many people want to fill the shoes of their parents and take control of the family business—Jake Collins is no different.
Collins, a member of Oklahoma Christian University’s 2017 graduating class, has rejoined Latta High School, his alma mater, serving as the assistant coach for both the men’s baseball and basketball teams. Collins coaches alongside his father, Eddie Collins, a household name in Oklahoma high school athletics.
Collins was a multi-sport athlete in high school prior to his time at Oklahoma Christian, leading both of the teams he now coaches to consecutive winning seasons and receiving recognition as a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the state player of the year. Collins also received an honorable mention for the all-state team in 2013.
Collins then played two years of baseball at Eastern Oklahoma State College prior to becoming an Eagle. After a serious physical ailment forced an untimely redshirt, Collins returned and finished his career as a formidable two-way star, hitting .313 his senior season and documenting seven saves.
In a recent interview with the Talon, Collins discussed what he was able to take away from his experience at Oklahoma Christian, what he tries to instill in his players and the family dynamic at Latta High School.
After growing up under the instruction of your father and storied high school coach Eddie Collins, how has the father-son relationship changed, and what are a few lessons you have learned?
My perspective has changed but our relationship hasn’t changed a whole lot—it’s gotten stronger if anything. Being able to coach alongside him, it makes you think maybe I didn’t know everything I thought I knew. Life is kind of funny like that.
During your athletic career, you suffered detrimental blood clot issues stemming from thoracic outlet syndrome. What did this injury teach you, and how did it alter your outlook on life?
I think the biggest takeaway from the whole thing was to have trust and faith that God is going to get you where you need to be. It is a tough thing, physically and mentally, to take a step back from things, especially when you’re so involved. When you’re told, hey, we have to dial it back, it teaches you how to be patient and disciplined. It’s not something you want to go through or choose to go through, but the road you take always makes you stronger. Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.
What are the key characteristics you try to develop within the young men you coach?
I think work ethic is huge. It is what separates good from great—we have an expression we use: hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. I think that holds true for all parts of life and especially sports. We may not beat you from a talent perspective, but we are going to make sure you know we put in the time.
What are a few things Oklahoma Christian taught you, whether on the field or in the classroom, regarding the way you live your life and how you coach?
Discipline. The responsibilities of a student-athlete can be tricky. OC taught me how to manage my time, how to get up in the morning when I don’t want to, all the stuff you don’t realize is important in everyday life. It really just taught me how to be consistent.
What are the major differences you have noticed going from a player to a coach, and how has that changed your perspective in other ways of life?
I think it is definitely something that humbles you. As a player, you just get to go out and play. As a coach, you have to manage a whole lot of other things, some things that aren’t very pretty. You also realize, hey, maybe this isn’t all about me. It forces your hand into thinking as a team and less as an individual.