Growing up, Carter Collins had a love of sports thrown at him from both sides of the family. On his mom’s side, it was golf. On his dad’s side, basketball. An unlikely pairing, but Collins found himself fascinated by both sports: one a fast-paced, high-action contact sport with running, jumping and dunking, and the other an intensely slow game of precision and aim.
Thus, it was likely no surprise to anyone when Collins, who was already the assistant head coach for Anderson University’s Men’s Basketball team, accepted the position of head coach for the men’s golf team last year.
Originally from Fowlerville, Mich., Collins took an interest in a variety of sports growing up. His lineup of athletic activities included soccer and baseball, but he stopped playing those before entering high school. Once in high school, Collins zeroed in on the two sports he loved most: golf and basketball.
During Collins’s childhood, his father had been a varsity basketball coach, which may be why Collins has always felt such a strong connection to the game.
“I was shooting baskets on my mini-hoop even before I took my first steps,” said Collins.
In high school, Collins was all-conference and all-county selection, as well as a two-time captain for his team. After graduating high school, Collins continued his basketball career at Hope College in Michigan, an NCAA Division III school, where he played on the junior varsity team his freshman year. But when there was an opportunity to take on the role of student assistant coach his sophomore year, Collins jumped on the opening.
“I always kind of knew that whenever my playing career ended, whenever that would be, I wanted to get into coaching immediately,” said Collins.
Collins held the position of student assistant coach for the rest of his collegiate career. During his four years at Hope, the basketball team won three conference championships, and participated in the NCAA Tournament in those three seasons and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in 2017.
As for golf, Collins’s love for that sport blossomed during his middle school years, when his grandparents would gift him memberships to their local golf course as Christmas presents. That wasn’t the only reason he fell in love with the game. Collins said that two of his uncles are former pro golfers, and his grandfather was also an avid golfer.
Collins played golf competitively in high school, but chose to not play in college and instead focus on basketball.
After graduating from Hope College with a degree in psychology and communication in 2017, Collins came to AU to pursue his Masters in Business Administration with Falls School of Business — and that’s when he happily accepted a position with the men’s basketball team as a graduate assistant coach.
Collins said that AU had a similar feel to his alma mater, making him feel at home since day one.
“I had a great experience earning my MBA in the Falls School of Business, and have always had an enjoyable time on the athletics side of things here, as well,” said Collins.
Collins held the position of graduate assistant coach for two years while pursuing his MBA before being promoted to the full-time assistant basketball head coach in 2019. During his five years with AU’s basketball program, the men’s team has reached their goal each year — earning a spot in the conference tournament each of those five seasons.
For the 2021-22 season, the team had a record of 16-10. Collins says he hopes this is only the beginning of success for the program.
“The next step for the basketball program is to get over the hump and win a championship, and we certainly have been knocking on the door recently,” said Collins.
When Collins saw that there was an opening at AU for head men’s golf coach, he decided to rekindle his love for the sport and didn’t hesitate to jump into another coaching role for the 2021-22 season.
Prior to accepting the position, Collins had never coached golf before, nor had he played at the collegiate level, so he says the learning curve for taking on the role of college golf coach has been a steep one — but he’s making the adjustment quickly.
“I think the biggest challenge that I’ve had this year as a coach is just entering the world of golf, which is somewhat new to me. I did golf in high school, so I have some experience with competitive golf, but collegiate golf is another world, and it is very different from basketball,” said Collins.
As head coach, his first goal for the team is to grow the program’s numbers. The team currently has four golfers — one senior, two sophomores and a freshman. Collins said that the program doesn’t have nearly as many people as the team realistically should have, so he’s been working hard over the past nine months of being head coach to ensure that the team has a full-sized roster by the beginning of the 2022-23 season.
“The guys that we do currently have on the team have been fantastic resources in this regard,” said Collins. “Any recruit that steps on campus and gets to meet them is certainly leaving campus knowing that they’d be comfortable and excited to have them as teammates.”
Once the team has an appropriate number of golfers, Collins says that then the work to improve the program’s competitiveness will begin. But that can’t be done without a team of the proper size.
“I think that we have all of the resources, we need to start to be one of the top teams in the conference in the future and we’re working hard to add even more opportunities for the guys on the team, as well,” said Collins. “The golf program has a little bit of catching up to do, but I believe that the pieces are in place for the program to have a lot of success once we fill out our roster.”
The golf team participated in seven outings during their nontraditional season last fall and are looking forward to their regular season this spring.
As much as Collins loves coaching and being involved with his two favorite sports, he says coaching is not an easy task by any means, whether it’s basketball or golf.
“In both sports, I’m not sure people realize how much work goes into being a coach that isn’t actually ‘coaching,’” said Collins. “Recruiting, fundraising, overseeing academics, gameplanning, scheduling — there’s a lot that goes on outside of what you see on the court or on the course.”
Collins’s love for playing basketball and golf has translated into a possibly even stronger love for coaching the two sports. He’s optimistic about the future of AU men’s basketball and men’s golf and he believes that each program’s time will come — and Collins believes that time is soon.
“I believe that both the golf and basketball programs at AU have everything that they need to be competitive with the best teams in the conference in the near future,” said Collins.
To keep up with the basketball team, follow @AURavensMBB on Instagram. For updates on golf, follow @AthleticsAU on Twitter or Instagram for regular posts about their season.