What do you get when you combine a stats teacher with a basketball coach?
How about 14 straight conference titles, three state championships, four Mr. Basketball Award Recipients including 10-year NBA vet Wesley Matthews – the list goes on.
“Statistics have changed things a lot,” said Steve Collins, a statistics teacher who moonlights as the head boys basketball coach at James Madison Memorial High School in Madison, Wisconsin. “There’s a reason kids don’t shoot 12-footers anymore.”
In a sport that has focused heavily on analytics for the last two decades, it’s no surprise that Collins has had success – some of his additional accolades and accomplishments include two Wisconsin Coach of the Year awards, several appearances in various national rankings, 18 consecutive winnings seasons, and much more.
The success was earned, too. When he started at James Madison Memorial, the program was struggling, as they had just six total winning seasons in 50 years. What’s more, he was the only applicant for the position.
“No one else wanted the job,” he said.
In addition to his success on the court, Collins has become one of the most trusted, respected and well-known coaches in the high school hoops social media community. Whether it’s his Twitter account with 20,000 followers, his YouTube page with 22,000 subscribers and countless educational videos, or his two Facebook groups with thousands of members apiece, many coaches want to hear what Coach Collins has to say.
Congratulations to the BSN SPORTS Coach of the Month for February 2020: Coach Steve Collins!
- James Madison Memorial High School (Madison, Wisconsin)
- Head Boys Basketball Coach, Statistics teacher
- Two-time Wisconsin State Coach of the Year, three-time State Champion
- CEO of TeachHoops.com
- Host of Coach Unplugged Podcast
- Played collegiate basketball at Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin)
1. What has led to some of your recent success?
“We’ve been willing to change. How I coached 25 years ago and how I coach now is different. If you don’t adjust with the times, you’ll be a dinosaur…if I coached the way did 10 years ago, we’d be losing.”
With all his success, people have asked Collins why he hasn’t left, as he’s surely had opportunities to do so.
“Why would I leave? It’s a great school, my kids go here” said the Madison native who loves his hometown, and is now coaching his son. “It’s like Barry Alvarez with the Badgers now. Why would I leave!?”
2. What are your thoughts on the current state of high school basketball?
“High school basketball is a very unique thing, especially with some states having no shot clocks and some states playing halves instead of quarters. It adds to that chess match of coaching.”
Collins thinks quite a few changes should be made to help improve the game. He says the three-point line should move back again (but there are too many lines to repaint), the court should be bigger, and the jump ball should be abolished.
Despite the recent three-point shot craze, Collins does think there could be a regression to the mean.
“People are working on how to defend the three-point line, and how to defend the layup and dunk. Part of me thinks there’s an opening. A swing back to the midrange game may come in the next 7 to 8 years.”
3. What are your thoughts on sport specialization?
“I love multiple sport athletes. I like guys that will compete. Now, in a big high school, its hard to be competitive in three sports. Before high school, though, kids should play as many sports as possible.
Collins believes that kids who play multiple sports growing up will not only impress prospective college recruiters with their versatility, but they will also experience benefits such as:
- Less injuries
- Improved competitiveness
- Better for lifelong learning
“They’re basically cross-training,” he said.
4. What are your thoughts about coaches using social media?
“I was Mr. Anti-Social in 2011. I told my AP Statistics class if we won the state championship, I would get a Twitter account. They set it up for me and showed me how to use it…I started with that, then YouTube and Facebook groups…I think coaches just want places to talk.”
Added Collins: “I even have a Snapchat now.”
Here are links to some of Collins’ social accounts:
- Facebook Group: Basketball Coaches
- Facebook Group: Basketball Coaches, Drills and Practice Plans
5. What’s some advice you have for other coaches?
“As a coach, you have to be willing to change. And it’s really about convincing them to do what they don’t necessarily want to do. You can do that through community, and you can do that through them knowing that you really got their back.”
Additionally, Collins suggests that coaches:
- Find a mentor, “someone you can lean on and talk to.”
- Never stop learning
- Don’t be stubborn, and be open to new things
Learn more from Coach Collins on his social accounts above, or his website, TeachHoops.com.
BSN SPORTS Coach of the Month
Want to learn more about our Coach of the Month program, and potentially nominate a deserving coach you know?
Visit our Coach of the Month page here.