Collins leads Post to stellar season

Brian Riley

The LIU Post football team concluded an incredible season last week, filled with comebacks, heartbreaks, and exceeded expectations. After two consecutive losing seasons, the Pioneers turned it around this year winning their first Northeast-10 Conference Championship since 2006 and making their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in nearly 10 years. 

The No. 6 seeded Pioneers lost to third-seeded Virginia State, 28-17, in a first-round clash Saturday at Rogers Stadium.

Much of the credit for this season’s success is due to  head football coach, Bryan Collins. Before the season even started and months before training camp was in sight, Collins had the depth chart-board wide open, preparing for the season ahead. 

On the railing of the depth chart sits a dirty old horseshoe that Collins found during a jog around the LIU Post campus prior to last season. Collins picked it up, hoping it was a good luck charm, after going 5-11 during the 2012-2013 season. Collins, who is also the head Athletic Director for LIU Post, thought a little luck might be needed.

During the fall season, Collins enters the campus athletic center at 8 a.m. and leaves at 12 p.m. Collins, a husband and a father of two, struggles during the season to see his family. 

“Unfortunately, there isn’t much balance. You sacrifice certain things for your career,” Collins said. 

Collins played middle linebacker throughout his high school and college careers. At St. John’s University, he won the Dr. Peter Vitulli Award, which is given to athletes with the most perseverance and courage. Collins graduated with a Business Management degree from the university. 

It was a year after graduation that he realized an office job wasn’t the route for him. Although he hoped that an NFL team would give him a call, they never did. But, Collins was committed to making a living out of the sport he loved. 

In preparation for a career in football, Collins returned to his high school alma mater, Saint Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, as an assistant coach. After several years of coaching there, Collins ultimately got the head-coaching job at LIU Post in 1998.

Perseverance is a trait Collins has continually exhibited throughout his life. He recently celebrated the seven-year anniversary of his kidney transplant. Collins had surgery in the off-season, and never missed a game. 

Collins is not just a coach, but a teacher as well. 

“It’s great to stand in front of a group of young men and look into their eyes and they’re looking back at you, and you just feel they are paying attention to what you have to say,” Collins said. 

Mike Sollenne, junior offensive lineman for LIU Post, gets to listen to his speeches firsthand. 

“He’s a yeller sometimes, but every coach is,” Sollenne said. Despite his first two seasons being losing ones, Sollenne finds comfort in Collins’ past success. 

During his first eight seasons as head football coach at LIU Post, he led the Pioneers to a 73 -17 record. He also supports a 5,000-hour community service goal for all of LIU’s student-athletes. 

“We are so fortunate to be able to play [and] with service you appreciate what you have,” Collins said. “Communication is paramount to every relationship.”

As a middle linebacker in college, it was his responsibility to communicate with his team and it was his responsibility to make adjustments. Collins uses those same communications skills in his role as athletic director. It is clear that Collins’ love for sports has rubbed off on his children, including his daughter, Megan, who played four sports in high school. 

Collins also expects his players to progress off the field, according to Ian Schraier, a 2007 graduate of LIU Post who is now their Director of Athletic Media Relations. Schraier has firsthand knowledge of that commitment, since his office is footsteps away from Collins’. 

“Collins pushed me when I was a student working in the office, and now as an employee,” Schraier said. Collins responded, “If you’re staying the same, you’re getting worse.”

This article was originally published in the Pioneer, the award-winning student newspaper of LIU Post, www.liupostpioneer.com, and is republished here by Blank Slate Media with the permission of the Pioneer.

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Brian Riley

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