Coach's sudden passing leaves void at Southern Columbia
Kevin Collins always had a smile on his face, a big hello for everyone and he left an indelible mark on the lives of his players at Southern Columbia.
Collins, the girls basketball coach at Southern and just shy of his 46th birthday, died Tuesday from complications related to a bee sting.
The news was jarring to all.
"Kevin was very popular; everyone is in shock," Southern Columbia Superintendent Paul Caputo said. "Whatever supports we can provide, we will."
Caputo is on vacation with his family, high school principal Jim Becker is also on vacation and athletic director and varsity football coach Jim Roth is at camp with his team at Lebanon Valley College. It left Collins' assistants, teachers in the district and guidance counselors to comfort the girls and help them cope with the sudden and tragic news.
There was no indication if or when memorial or funeral services would be held.
"The coaches were present at the school and broke the news to the girls and provided counseling support at that point," Caputo said, also mentioning what was set up to be a busy end of the summer season for the girls basketball team.
"The girls decided they will be attending camp and if the funeral should occur during camp, they would come home for that.
"This was one way to honor their coach, something he'd want them to do. I talked to the parents of a couple girls and it sounds like they're in the best spirits possible and are committed to moving forward and honoring commitments."
Collins leaves behind a wife and five children, and his loss leaves a void in the Tigers' community.
After coaching at Lourdes, as both an assistant with the boys and girls basketball teams and as the head coach of the volleyball team, Collins was hired as an assistant with the boys basketball team at Southern Columbia. After a year, he was tabbed to replace JoEllen Gallinot as the head girls coach at Southern.
And that one year was magical for both Collins, his players and their fans.
Collins' spirit was irrepressible and he wanted just one thing for his players - the best. Wins and losses were nice and an impressive by-product of Collins' enthusiasm.
His only season ended with a 19-7 record, a second--place finish in District 4 and a berth in the state playoffs.
His team played up-tempo and unselfish defense like defense meant something. It was a direct on-court manifestation of Collins' personality. In interviews he spoke quickly and happily about team, always team first.
But Collins' presence wasn't confined to the basketball court. He and his assistants were nearly constant presences at the Tigers' softball games in the spring and a camp for elementary girls interested in basketball was planned for two weeks from now.
"He taught a lot of life lessons and this is one of them - honoring commitments and sticking together as a team," Caputo said. "He emphasized service to yourself and others."