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Q&A with a Razorback Coach: Tom Collen

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Q&A with a Razorback Coach: Tom Collen

By Stephen McGowanArkansas Media RelationsHead women’s basketball coach Tom Collen brgins his third season with the Razorbacks and is coming off a solid year. A former assistant at Arkansas in the mid 1990’s, Collen returned as the head coach in 2007 and made an immediate impact with a top 25 recruiting class. His first Razorback team broke the school record for consecutive wins with a 15-0 start and AP ranking before season-ending injuries took the roster down to nine scholarship players.In his two years with Arkansas has had three players selected to SEC postseason honors andone, C’eira Ricketts, earn Associated Press All-America hnors. Ricketts also went on to earn a gold medal with the Team USA U19 World Championship team in 2009.MR: What was your biggest draw to the Razorback program?TC: My biggest draw was that I had experience with it before when I was an assistant with Coach [Gary] Blair for four years. I fell in love with Fayetteville the University and the state, it was just such an easy transition for me, when the job came open it was like a dream come true.MR: What do you enjoy most about Razorback fans?TC: I think they are avid, I think they are there behind you whether you win or lose, they don’t like you to lose and they let you know about it. I’d rather have fans that are in the stands that expect a quality performance, night in and night out but they’re there, rather having fans that don’t show up when you’re not playing well.MR: What is the most exciting thing about your team this year?TC: It’s our youth, I think we’re still extremely young, we put a couple of kids on the all-freshman team last year, and I think we have a couple that could make that team this year, it’s exciting having young kids, it’s not easy to coach them in practice every day, however they are enthusiastic, they want to be good. I think they are pretty talented, and you know that somewhere down the road a little light is going to come on and you’re going to have a pretty good basketball team.MR: What is your favorite element about your sport, and why?TC: I think its just working with young people, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I’m 55 now, I feel like I’m a young 55 because I’m out there every day with student-athletes that are 19 and 20 years old. They have energy, enthusiasm, they are happy, it’s just really enjoyable to be around young people like that day in and day out as your job.MR: What one person you would like to have an autograph from?TC: Kay Yao, she is the late coach of North Carolina State who died of breast cancer. I really admire her for her toughness and the way she battled through her cancer for the last years of her life and kept giving to the game… ironically I knew her well, and I never got her autograph while she was alive, and I look back now and wish I had it.MR: Name one thing about yourself that most people might not know about you?TC: I’m probably a lot more competitive than I appear on the surface. I have had people tell me time and time again, that I’m pretty calm and cool on the sidelines. But on the inside, I’m ready to burst in almost every game we play.MR: What is your greatest fulfillment in coaching?TC: That I was there from the beginning in women’s basketball. I started coaching girls when I was 18 years old, at a time when that wasn’t a popular thing to do. There wasn’t a lot of money and support, but I’m really thankful that I was there from the beginning, that I’ve lasted as long as I have and have seen all the great strides that female athletes have made in terms of fan support.MR: What is your favorite holiday?TC: My favorite holiday is still Christmas, I think it goes back to when I was an incubator baby born on December 21 and I missed my first Christmas. I’ve always felt like I got cheated out of one so I think I’m always looking for that one Christmas that is going to be the best one of my life.MR: What inspired you to be a coach?TC: I initially fell in love with the game, I was one of those kids that lived out in the country, and my dad put up a basketball goal in my driveway, and I would go out and sweep snow off my driveway everyday and just shoot, shoot, shoot for hours of time. I fell in love with the game first and as I went through school it just seemed like a natural thing, l was never a great player but I loved to compete and working hard, and enjoying being an athlete so much that it was just natural to me to continue in to coaching.MR: If you and C’eira [Ricketts] played a pickup game, who would win?TC: I would, definitely, because she doesn’t have a left hand, so I would just sit on her right hand and wouldn’t guard outside of 15 feet because she can’t shoot the 3 either. I would just push her left and let her live or die with her jump shot all night long.MR: If you were a pizza what kind would you be?TC: I would be the Hawaiian special because I love warm weather and the sun.MR: Would you ever go skydiving?TC: I had the opportunity to go skydiving last year on vacation with my wife, and I have to say I felt pretty cowardly, when it was something she wanted to do. The opportunity presented itself for me to go with her and I chose to stay on the ground where it was nice and safe. I think I would like to try it, I just haven’t been able to muster up the courage to do it.MR: Describe yourself in one word?TC: Patient.



Sports Category : Basketball (W)