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Valencia relieves Rocket Collins of coaching duties

Collins coached Vikings basketball for 13 years

Posted: June 6, 2014 6:13 p.m.
Updated: June 6, 2014 6:13 p.m.

In a season of change, Valencia High School made another big shift on Friday by relieving longtime boys head basketball coach Rocket Collins of his duties.

It’s the second coaching move in 10 days for the athletic program, which removed the interim tag from Mike Killinger and hired him as its head baseball coach on May 28.

Collins was the Vikings head coach for 13 seasons and in that time he took the team to 12 postseasons, his teams won four Foothill League titles and he compiled a 244-117 record overall.

The team made four CIF-Southern Section divisional quarterfinal appearances.

“We are moving in a different direction with our basketball program. We want to thank coach Collins for all the years and hard work he’s put in. But at this time we feel it necessary for our basketball program to move in a different direction,” said Valencia athletic director Brian Stiman.

Stiman said it was a group decision led by incoming Principal John Costanzo.

Collins was upbeat about the decision, but said he was taken off guard by it.

He conducted a practice with the team on Friday then was called into a meeting.

“I’m disappointed in the way it’s gone down because it’s not basketball related,” Collins said. “The reason they gave is it’s more of my other job.”

Stiman said the move was not disciplinary and that Collins will still work on campus at Valencia High as a campus supervisor.

Collins’ Valencia team went 20-9 in 2013-14 and finished third in the Foothill League with a record of 6-4.

Collins has a rich basketball history in the Santa Clarita Valley, having played at The Master’s College, was an assistant coach there, was the varsity girls basketball coach at Canyon High and coached the lower level boys programs there.

“To be honest with you, the last two, three months I’ve been doing some soul searching and things have been going pretty good for me,” Collins said. “Two years from now I was planning on stepping down.

“I appreciate all the kids who played for me and will miss them tremendously. Some have already texted me and said things that have touched me.”

The Valencia boys basketball job is a coveted one and the list of possible candidates is intriguing.

Former Saugus High boys basketball coach Derek Ballard, whose tenure ended with the Centurions in February after six seasons, wouldn’t say whether or not he would be applying for the job.

Valencia girls basketball coach Jerry Mike, whose intensity and style would translate well to the boys’ side, said he didn’t know if he’d be interested.

“I haven’t processed everything yet,” said Mike, who has run the girls program for 16 years. “I’m still a little surprised. It’s intriguing. They have a lot of talented guys who can play for sure.”

Mike, though, said he’s comfortable coaching a girls program with it’s own crop of young talent that just came off a co-Foothill League title.

Former Canyon boys basketball head coach Chad Phillips, who had a highly successful run with the Cowboys from 2000 to 2012, has expressed interest in coaching again.

Phillips could not ne reached for this story.

The Valencia summer basketball program begins Monday.


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