Michael Collins ’07 Inspires the Next Generation to Rise to the Challenge
As Stevens prepares to kick off the 2023 All Rise Challenge, Michael Collins ’07, Stevens assistant men’s basketball coach and facility operator/head NBA & overseas pro trainer at Basketball City @ Pier 36, tells us why working with the Ducks is so rewarding.
At any given moment, you might find Michael Collins ’07 overseeing the organized chaos of a youth basketball camp, managing the technology for a major fundraising event, or training members of the Stevens men’s basketball team. Some days require Collins to field all these roles, and that’s when he puts his Stevens-level dedication and positive outlook front and center.
Collins had never heard of Stevens before being recruited to play basketball for the Ducks, but after four years at a small prep school just outside Manhattan, moving to Castle Point was an easy transition.
“I fit right in,” he says. “I was accustomed to being close to New York City.”
Choosing a major was a little more complicated, however. “Initially I chose chem-bio, thinking I would go to medical school,” Collins recalls. “When my interest in becoming a physician faded, I wanted to find a way to stay at Stevens. I knew I liked psychology – my dad was a psychologist – so I gravitated toward the social science major.”
Collins’ Stevens experience remained central to his success as he pursued his passion for physical fitness through a B.S./M.S. program in sports sciences at Long Island University. “My Stevens education prepared me for the challenges of graduate school and for launching my career,” he says.
“I was always interested in working with different types of people,” Collins continues. “Having a social sciences background helped me understand how to read people, to interpret their body language. It gave me the knowledge and skills to be a better mentor, and to work more effectively with and help develop my team.”
Collins’ success as a recreation specialist with Hudson Guild, a New York City community center, and as a fitness coordinator with I Challenge Myself, a program for youth in underserved communities, led to his initial role as youth basketball director for Basketball City @ Pier 36.
Pier 36 is a premier, seven-court, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment facility. Collins is one of only four full-time staff members managing a packed schedule of award shows, business and tech conferences, expos and conventions, food and wine events, fashion and art shows and, of course, adult and youth sporting events.
“We host a lot of giveback events and fundraisers and do a lot of work with the NBA and specific teams,” he notes.
“Coming from Stevens, I’m the idea guy,” Collins adds with a laugh. “I built the website for the business, and I handle the technology at the building in addition to managing events.”
Bright lights and the big city have yet to keep Collins from his involvement with Stevens. Since 2009, he has been part of the basketball coaching team. “Head Coach Hurley was the assistant coach when I was a player,” he explains. “Now, I get to be his assistant, training players and working with them off the court.”
Collins has been with the program through six seasons of at least 18 wins, the team’s second appearance in the NCAA tournament, 10 conference tournament appearances, a MAC Freedom Championship, an Empire 8 Conference regular season crown, and an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Metro Championship. In 2011, Collins earned the Edwin “Doc” Farrell Award, which recognizes members of the athletic department who best exemplify the ideals of integrity, service, conduct and dedication to Stevens athletics. Ever ready to help others, he is in the planning stages of forming a new nonprofit that will combine his love of basketball and his interest in promoting mental wellness.
“Division III athletes play for the love of the game,” Collins says, explaining his continued involvement at Stevens. “I know first-hand the challenges they face to stay on top of Stevens-level academics while keeping up with practices, training and game schedules. The level of focus and energy they bring to the table is inspiring.”
With the 2023 All Rise Challenge beginning Oct. 10, Collins wants the Stevens community to know the impact of their support. “All Rise contributions directly affect every detail of our athletes’ experience,” he says. “Meals on the road, quality of their uniforms and gear, upgrades to courts and fields, travel to international competitions, even filming the games – these things help our athletes feel like they are at a Division I school. They take on a lot of added pressure for us, and it is great when we do all we can to support their performance.”