As a youth growing up in Bill Parcells’ hometown of Oradell, N.J., Jeff Collins always remembered what athletics meant to him.
“The whole aspect of athletics to me was providing kids an opportunity to be successful,” said Collins. “Athletics gave me an opportunity and shaped me into the person I am today. I benefited from it greatly and I always wanted to be in position to give something back to the kids.”
Collins will certainly be able to do that in his new role as the executive director of the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association. Portsmouth High School’s principal for the last eight years, the 44-year-old Collins, who resides in Exeter, will officially succeed retiring director Pat Corbin on July 1.
A defensive lineman during his four seasons (1988-91) at the University of New Hampshire under former mentor Bill Bowes, Collins said he’s looking forward to moving the NHIAA forward in the years to come.
“Serving on the NHIAA Council the last eight years has afforded me the opportunity to meet a number of people across the state,” said Collins, who will oversee 90 member schools and close to 40,000 student-athletes statewide. “I’m looking forward to working with the many dedicated people — principals, superintendents, coaches — throughout the state who represent all our schools. I want to gather as much information as possible and move the association forward in a positive way.”
Collins has been an educator in the Granite State since 1995. He has served as chairman of the golf committee and has served as a member of the football committee. He has already given something back on the gridiron, serving in many capacities as an assistant coach at both Salem and Souhegan of Amherst.
It was through his work on the NHIAA Council where Collins made an impression on his peers, people such as Rick Dichard, assistant principal at Manchester Central, who chaired the search committee, and NHIAA president Scott Fitzgerald, current athletic director at Kearsarge Regional of North Sutton.
According to Fitzgerald, the NHIAA Council vote to appoint Collins was unanimous.
“I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Jeff on the council and he’s very passionate about the NHIAA,” said Fitzgerald. “He’s a person who wants to impact student-athletes in a positive way. During our meetings Jeff always listened and always had an opinion on various issues. At the end of the day, regardless of the final vote, Jeff respected the will of the board and worked hard to make our association stronger for the kids.”
Collins’ arrival means the end of an era for Corbin. “Pat is a special guy who has meant so much to our association,” said Fitzgerald. “His experience, guidance, support and humor blended so well and his work ethic was unmatched. He’s one of the most unselfish individuals I’ve ever met. Speaking for everyone across the state, we truly appreciate the tremendous work Pat did for our association. We’ll miss him and wish him well in retirement.”
Added Collins: “Between now and July, I want to gather as much information from Pat before taking over,” said Collins. “He has done a commendable job over the years. At the same time, I’m leaving a great high school rich in tradition. I’m so grateful to the many people of Portsmouth who welcomed me as their principal and made me feel part of their school. They were family to me for eight years, something I’ll always remember and cherish.”