Senior, announced his resignation at the team banquet Tuesday. “I just think it's the right time for a different voice to lead
the program,” Collins said. “I've been saying it since
mid-February…it's time for somebody else to do
MANSFIELD – After 12 seasons, 11 conference championships and 235 victories, Gregg Collins decided it was time for a change.
Collins, the ultra-successful boys basketball coach at Mansfield Senior, announced his resignation at the team banquet Tuesday evening.
“I just think it's the right time for a different voice to lead the program,” Collins said Tuesday night. “I've been saying it since mid-February. I told (assistant coaches) Jeff McCoy and Effie James and (junior varsity coach) Marquis Sykes it's time for somebody else to do the talking.”
Collins said the decision to step down is one he has considered for several months.
“For a while now, I've said this was it,” he said. “Dr. (Lloyd) Martin and (Mansfield Senior Principal) Mike Dixon and (athletic director) Dick Windbigler have been very supportive. They asked me to take my time and think about it.
“I feel honored to have coached here the past 12 years.”
Collins was hired to replace Ron Hetler before the 1996-97 season. He led the Tygers to a 15-9 record and a share of the Ohio Heartland Conference crown.
After sharing the OHC title with Madison in 1998, Mansfield Senior captured four straight outright titles during an unprecedented stretch from 1999 to 2002. The Tygers were 44-0 in the OHC and 84-12 with three district championships and a Final Four berth (1999).
“To me, he is the best basketball coach in the area and one of the best in Ohio,” Windbigler said. “His record speaks for itself.
“Year-in and year-out, our program has been as good as anyone's in the state.”
Windbigler said there is no timeline for finding Collins' successor.
“I'm sure we're going to have plenty of applicants for the position,” he said. “It's going to be tough to find someone to fill his shoes.”
Windbigler was a member of the search committee that recommended Collins for the job in 1995.
“It was a no-brainer,” he said. “Hands down, he was going to get the job based on his credentials alone.”
Those credentials included two state championships in three years (1989, 1991) at Lexington. Collins was 129-42 in seven seasons in charge of the Minutemen from 1985 to 1992.
“He is one of the greatest coaches to come through Ohio high school basketball,” said Jonathon Avery, a 2005 Mansfield Senior graduate. “His résumé speaks for itself.”
“It doesn't surprise me that he is stepping down. He has done everything he could do at Mansfield Senior except win a state championship.”
Avery was a key component of Mansfield Senior's 2005 Final Four team and is a sophomore forward at Division I IUPUI, where he averaged more than 10 points last winter.
“When I talk to other guys who played for Coach Collins and went on to play college basketball, they all say the same thing. He prepared them to play the college game,” Avery said. “He prepares his players as well as anyone in the state. I can honestly say I never walked out on the floor not knowing what to expect and in my four years, we played three very different styles of basketball.”
The 2005 team lost its season opener to Cincinnati Princeton, then reeled off a school record 24 straight wins before falling to Canton McKinley in the state semifinals.
Along the way, Collins picked up career victory No. 300 and was selected the state's big-school coach of the year, an honor he shared with Shelby native and longtime friend Dave Hoover of Canton McKinley.
“That was one of those years that people still say we shouldn't have gotten as far as we did,” Avery said. “I won't sit here and say we were the most talented team ever to come through Mansfield Senior, but he got us to play together.”
Mansfield Senior has won or shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference championship every year since the league's inception in 2003. The Tygers are 62-6 all-time in OCC action and shared the crown with Lexington last winter.
“I was shocked when I heard the news,” junior guard Jacob Owens said. “Coach Collins is Mansfield Senior basketball. He's all I've ever known.”
Collins did not rule out a return to coaching.
“I'm not going to say I'm not going to coach again. I don't have any hobbies and my golf game is not that good,” he said. “I'm getting to be an old guy, but I still enjoy coaching.”