The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) welcomes back Becca Collins for the 2018-19 women’s softball season as the Hawks’ new head coach. Collins served as an assistant coach for three years from 2014-2017 under former head Coach Jim Cleary and she said she is ready to return and take the CSM Hawks’ softball team through its best season yet.
“I am ecstatic,” she said in a recent interview. “I feel ready to just hit it hard and get going.”
Collins rejoins the Hawks’ family with a long resume of experience in the game. Collins first picked up a bat and a glove at age 8 with so much love for the sport that she recalled choosing a batting cage over a trip to Disney World as the gift she wanted over spring break when she was in the eighth grade. She laughs now at that fateful decision.
Eventually leaving her batting cage and Disney conflict behind, she excelled as an outfielder at La Plata High School, earning a scholarship to Concord University in Athens, West Virginia in the fall of 2009. In her four years at Concord, she became their all-time leader in hits (188) and games played (180). She finished with a career batting average of .324, hitting .380 her senior year, finished second in career runs (118), third in stolen bases (35), and fifth in RBIs (78).
One of the reasons why she played so many games, she said, was because of her ability to play multiple positions. Collins has played centerfield, first base, catcher and shortstop in consecutive seasons. When she moved to shortstop her senior year, her love and passion for the game grew stronger.
“At that point, I didn’t want to leave [the game],” said Collins, “because I took over one of the most important positions on the field and did well at it. Once you do well at something, you don’t want to give it up.”
During her senior year at Concord, she realized she wanted to become a coach. When she figured out she had the aspirations to become a Division 1 softball coach, she said she realized that starting at CSM was a good fit to begin her coaching career because it brought her back home to Southern Maryland.
“Coming out of college,” said Collins, “I figured JUCO is a good start because you get to push girls who want to go to the four-year universities. I realized it was the perfect situation to start my coaching career.”
After three years as an assistant at CSM, she was offered the head coaching position at Lackey High School and found immediate success in that position. “We won our regional championship for the first time in 15 years,” said Collins. “The girls worked really hard.”
Versatility and Teamwork go hand in hand
But when she found out about the opening at CSM this season, she said she couldn’t resist the appeal to return to CSM and take over the reins. “I want to build a program so four-year schools can rely on us and we can be a gateway for the players to excel and build their best skills.”
Collins’ coaching philosophy is straightforward: ‘versatility and teamwork go hand in hand.’ She said she has learned many lessons along the way to become a successful coach. A few she plans to maintain and grow are patience, versatility and teamwork.
“The first lesson I have learned is patience because they [the players] are not going to get it right the first time,” she shard.
As for versatility, the reason why Collins said she played four different positions in college is because those were the areas that would be best for the team, instead of her individually. Despite her not liking the position changes at first, she said she was able to buy into the team concept rather quickly.
“When you do what your team needs you to do, you’re more likely to be successful. It makes you more versatile and a better person. I’ve been told that when applying for jobs that someone would rather hire an athlete more than anyone else because they know how to perform under pressure.”
“And sometimes you just need ‘new,’” she added. “With the CSM [softball] program, I feel like we are starting over. After [the Hawks] rough season last year, sometimes it’s good to start over … build from the ground up.”
The Power of Positivity
Collins also shared that she believes in the power of positivity. “Yelling doesn’t get you anywhere. My dad once told me that you should give two positives for one negative, so it doesn’t feel like you’re weighing them down. If you beat somebody down over and over again, he or she is not going to perform. It’s important [to be positive] because you’re a teacher, a mentor and a role model, so you have to act like it.
“I want to be someone that parents, guardians and relatives can trust; that I am teaching their children the right things to do, being that positive role model,” she added. “I think that’s a big part of it.”
Another part of a positive environment is being open to suggestions from her players. She said she is eager to include players in the decision making.
“Giving them (the players) the ability to make decisions is important because it’s as much of their team as it is mine. Once they feel that their decisions are trusted in the coaching staff, it opens a communication door. I think it will make all the difference in our program.”
Collins will be introducing the ‘new’ team when the Hawks’ softball preseason starts Sept. 11.