MANSFIELD – Gregg Collins left a program ranked fifth in state history with 1,372 wins.
He's taking over a program with eight Final Four appearances and a pair of state crowns to its credit.
Less than two weeks after resigning as the boys basketball coach at Division I powerhouse Mansfield Senior, Collins was introduced as the new coach at tradition-rich St. Peter's last Friday afternoon.
“I've got to be the luckiest man alive,” Collins said after meeting with his new team in the old Robert Frye Gymnasium. “I've been the head coach at three schools now and all three had great basketball traditions before I arrived.”
Collins replaces Roy Shoulders, who stepped down early last month after leading the boys program the past four seasons. Collins and Shoulders are longtime friends and Shoulders served on Collins' staff at Mansfield Senior before returning for his second stint as the St. Peter's boys coach in 2004.
“Coming into this program, I know the kids will be schooled in the fundamentals and they will play hard,” Collins said. “Every coach I talked to who played against St. Peter's said the same thing. They said the kids played hard every night.
“There is such a good foundation already in place. We just want to continue to build on what is already here.”
Collins' resume includes two Division II state championships at Lexington (1989, 1991), two Division I Final Four appearances at Mansfield Senior (1999, 2005), 364 career wins and a lifetime .800 winning percentage. He was one of three finalists for the job.
“You would think Gregg Collins would be an easy decision,” athletic director Tim Failor said, “but our other two candidates would have been easy decisions, too. When you look at the entire package Gregg brings, you can't pass it up. He's more than a great basketball coach. He's a quality human being.”
The month-long search for Shoulders' successor took its toll, Failor said.
“The hardest thing about the entire process was we had to tell some very good people, 'No,' ” Failor said. “It's good to have it over. It was draining.”
Collins will continue to teach at Mansfield Senior.
“The biggest obstacle we have to overcome is I won't be in the building with the kids,” Collins said. “We'll have to figure out other ways to develop those close relationships.”
That process began in earnest Friday afternoon. Collins addressed his new team, shaking hands with players as they turned in questionnaires.
“I'm really looking forward to playing for him,” junior Chris Mulherin said. “He's cityand state-renown. His name is famous around Mansfield.”
Mulherin and fellow junior Pete Mauric were key contributors for St. Peter's last season. The Spartans were 12-11 and captured a sectional championship before falling to Sandusky St. Mary's in the district semifinals.
“I've played under coach Shoulders on the varsity since I was a freshman,” Mauric said. “Changing coaches right before my senior season probably isn't something I would have chosen, but it's definitely exciting to play for a coach with his resume. From the way it sounds, (Collins) is bringing the same coaching philosophy.”
“I won't have to re-invent the wheel,” he said. “Coach Shoulders is a good friend and we have a lot of similarities. The program will not change a whole heck of a lot.
“Hopefully, we will work together to take some steps and keep the program moving forward.”
Gregg Collins was introduced as the new St. Peter's boys basketball coach Friday afternoon. The Spartans have made more appearances in the state tournament than any program in north central Ohio:
1968: Class A champion … Coached by Robert Frye. … Beat Latham Western 73-70 in semifinals. … Beat Petersburg Springfield 73-50 in final.
1970: Class A semifinalist. … Coaches by Robert Frye. … Lost to eventual Class A champion Cincinnati Lincoln Heights 61-60 in semifinals.
1973: Class A semifinalist. … Coached by Ron Barbo. … Lost to eventual Class A champion Marion Pleasant 63-53 in semifinals.
1975: Class A semifinalist. … Coached by Ron Barbo. … Lost to eventual Class A champion Maria Stein Marion Local 67-42 in semifinals.
1977: Class A runner-up. … Coached by Pat Maurer. … Beat Richmond Dale Southeastern 68-58 in semifinals. … Lost to Fort Loramie 63-50 in final.
1978: Class A champs. … Coached by Pat Maurer. … Beat Gnadenhutten Indian Valley South 49-45 in semifinals. … Beat Tipp City Bethel 78-60 in final.
1979: Class A runner-up. … Coached by Pat Maurer. … Beat Zanesville Rosecrans 60-45 in semifinals. … Lost to St. Henry 64-57 in final.
1990: Division IV semifinalist. … Coached by Tim Birie. … Lost to Springfield Catholic Central 64-42 in semifinals.
Gregg Collins was introduced as the new St. Peter's boys basketball coach last Friday. Here's a look at some of his career highlights:
Record: 364-91 (.800).
At Lexington: Seven season, 129-42 (.754).
At Mansfield Senior: 12 seasons, 235-49 (.827).
1985-86: Succeeded John Harris as Lexington coach. … Lexington finished 11-11, the only time a Collins-coached team has not finished above .500.
1986-87: Lexington was 9-11 in regular season, but advanced to AAA regional semifinals before losing to Columbus Brookhaven.
1988-89: Won Ohio Heartland Conference, sectional, district, regional and Division II state championships. Beat Dayton Chaminade-Julienne in state semifinals and Chesterland West Geauga in finals.
1990-91: Won OHC, sectional, district, regional and Division II state championships. Beat Triway in overtime in state semifinals and Dayton Chaminade-Julienne in finals.
1991-92: Led Lexington, which moved up to Division I, to its sixth straight sectional championship. … Resigned after seven seasons.
1996-97: Succeeded Ron Hetler as Mansfield Sr. coach. … Shared OHC title with Lexington. … Won sectional championship. … Lost to Fremont Ross (73-68, OT) in district final.
1997-98: Shared OHC title with Madison. … Won sectional title. … Lost to Sandusky (76-73, OT) in district semifinal.
1998-99: Won OHC title outright. … Won sectional, district and regional titles. … Lost to Cincinnati Moeller (49-43) in state semifinal.
1999-00: Won OHC title outright. … Won sectional and district titles. … Lost to Toledo Libbey (74-52) in regional final.
2000-01: Won OHC title outright. … Lost to Fremont Ross (52-49, OT) in sectional final.
2001-02: Won OHC title outright. … Won sectional and district titles. … Lost to Toledo St. John's (70-60) in regional semifinal.
2002-03: OHC runner-up to Ashland. Won sectional title. … Lost to Ashland (64-54) in district semifinal, Mansfield Senior's third loss to Ashland during the season.
2003-04: Shared Ohio Cardinal Conference championship with Wooster. … Won sectional and district titles. … Lost to Olmsted Falls (68-57) in regional semifinal.
2004-05: Won OCC title outright. … Won sectional, district and regional titles. … Lost to Canton McKinley (73-61) in state semifinal.
2005-06: Finished second in AP state poll to Canton McKinley. … Won OCC title outright. … Won sectional and district titles. … Lost to Toledo St. John's (74-65) in regional semifinal.
2006-07: Won OCC title outright. … Won sectional. … Lost to Findlay (56-51) in district final.
2007-08: Shared OCC title with Lexington. … Won sectional. … Lost to Ashland (57-54, OT) in district semifinal. … Announced his resignation on April 29 after 12 seasons.
Last Friday: Introduced as new St. Peter's coach, replacing Roy Shoulders.