Collins fits well with THA as prep team’s assistant coach
It takes a special type of person to take on the time commitment and level of dedication that’s required to coach at the Tahoe Hockey Academy, and there’s no doubt that Chris Collins fits the bill.
The assistant coach of Tahoe’s prep team, Collins is as passionate about hockey as he is about helping kids.
“It’s obvious we made the right decision in hiring him because he truly lives and breathes hockey,” said Mike Lewis, the head coach of Tahoe’s prep team. “He thinks about it when he wakes up in the morning and before he goes to bed at night. To do what we do here, being on the ice every single day, you really have to be a person who’s in tune to the game. It’s a perfect marriage to have someone who loves the game so much and to have a program that demands that from a coach.”
Collins joined Tahoe Hockey Academy in early 2016, jumping on board to help launch the program’s inaugural season. He had previously coached with the Tahoe Icemen, a Junior A team in the Western States Hockey League, and worked with kids in a private-lesson environment during the summers.
He said his experience with Tahoe Hockey Academy has been even better than he could have imagined.
“It’s always nerve-wracking when you’re a part of something new because for a lot of people, new is uncomfortable,” Collins said. “It has been great being a part of something that has caught so much momentum and being part of a program that believes so strongly in what it’s doing. I couldn’t be happier to be working with Mike Lewis, (varsity head coach) Leo Fenn and the other amazing guys we have on our coaching staff. It’s a great environment – this is one of the greatest group of guys I’ve been around in hockey, from the coaching staff to the players. Everybody has bought into the program.”
In addition to his duties with the prep team, Collins spends plenty of time on the ice with Tahoe’s varsity squad, working on skill development or whatever else the players need. He said it has been a breath of fresh air working with the types of kids that are drawn to Tahoe Hockey Academy. As California’s first prep boarding school for hockey players, Tahoe attracts the type of student-athletes who are fully committed to getting the most out of their potential, both on the ice and in the classroom.
Collins grew up playing across Southern California for teams in Panorama City, Burbank and Valencia before playing part of one season for an 18U AAA team in Texas. He was done with competitive hockey at the age of 19, and when he looks back at his experience, he realizes that he wasn’t working with the same resources that are available to Tahoe’s players to aid in their development.
“At that time, you either went Division I or Major Junior,” Collins said. “I always tell the guys here to get their education. After that, they can go try to play in the ECHL or Europe, and if all else fails, you can come home and you’re ready to start the next phase of your life.”
Lewis met Collins a few years ago through coaching circles, and when it came time to assemble a staff in Tahoe, it didn’t take long for him to realize he had found at least one of the right guys in Collins.
“What’s great about Chris is that he understands what we’re trying to do for our kids because he’s been through it,” Lewis said. “He grew up playing in SCAHA, and he has said how much we would have been appreciated back then if there was a program like ours out there.
“He can speak to our players from experience. He’s a great asset for our program.”
— Greg Ball
(Nov. 3, 2017)