View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


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.


metzli64: Posted: June 6, 2014 2:22 p.m.

This is bs... It is not because they are moving into a different direction it's because
The principal stated that Collins had conflict with the athletic director Brian Stiman,the athletic administrator Ron Hilton , retired Les Luxmore &even Vince Ferry.. The only conflict if any was With Ferry due to a restraint order against a fellow campus supervisor who made a threat on his life... And for Collins is handling it well but it is an out rage!!!
He has done so much for this district as coach, from canyon to Valencia .. He has loved basketball so when asked to coach at Valencia he said yes and the rest is history.. Please don't let the district spin this because they will.. From the top... We will see what happens at this point.. As being close to a source,don't let u believe that they have the best interest at heart when they give u the choice of quit or fire..
This is a shock to as well as you all...
Won several Foothill leagues, got Valencia deep in the play offs in a division that is tough. Well respected and liked
I ask u all how and go into a different direction when he was due to retire in two years??
I thank u for reading this..

Train_Bball: Posted: June 7, 2014 5:44 p.m.

It can be hard to lose a coach that has been around a long time. However, It's pretty clear the decision has been made. So, What is next? Time to focus on what is to come.... Hopefully not too rushed of a decision and hopefully a well thought out decision. If Valencia is looking to bring in someone new, this individual needs to not only have GREAT experience at the high school level but bring knowledge, integrity and lead by example. The first Coach for us that comes to mind is Coach CHAD PHILLIPS (as mentioned in this article). This Coach could take over a boys program quickly and lead it to many championships! This man has ability to not only bring discipline and dedication to a basketball program (with a proven history), but his positive influences can contribute to the overall school / student body itself. --edited.

bricklayer: Posted: June 8, 2014 10:47 p.m.

Is Phillips not the Athletic Director of Cyn? Are you suggesting they would hire him as a teacher at Valencia so he could be the coach, or he would keep teaching and Cyn and then be the Vikings coach? Seems a stretch. What about Hayes - already there and knows most of the kids.

At the end of the day I hope Rocket gets his day - a party to celebrate the positive effect he had on many kids. He earned the right to have his years acknowledged and commended. Some may argue his ability to make adjustments or get the most out the talent was lacking - but from what I have heard he did a great job molding the boys to care for each other a be a family. He was a positive role model in many ways. If he had the same exact teams and coached the same way - but was in the same playoff division as Cyn - he would have had a LOT more success in the playoffs without a doubt.

canyon4ever: Posted: June 8, 2014 3:32 p.m.

Hey at least you guys are hiring experienced coach. Canyon's Athletic Dept. is a joke. They hired a coach for soccer varsity who is totally clueless, inexperience and incompetent in the game of soccer. He was an AYSO coach for kids and a ref for that matter. He wasted two years of Canyon's soccer and lead nothing but failure 2 years in a row. Can't really blame the coach but the administration who does not care of Canyon's soccer program at all. Well since this clueless coach apparently resigned or forced to resign, I can bet you Canyon will hire another inexperience coach. Good job Canyon!!! Good Luck Valencia.

html234234: Posted: June 9, 2014 12:18 a.m.

This is a disgrace. No new direction needed. They should have let the man finish out the last two years he wanted to.

Hardwork942: Posted: June 10, 2014 12:07 a.m.

Coach Rocket has done a good job in league and playoffs over his 13 year career and everyone appreciates that. Now Valencia has a great opportunity to bring in a young coach that can elevate their program to new heights. That coach should be Alex Dunwoody who played basketball at Valencia, coached the freshman team last year and was on the varsity staff as one of the assistants. Many of the freshman, junior varsity and varsity players agree Alex is a coach that is well respected because of his dedication and inspiration in helping the program get better.Alex is a young gifted up an coming coach. The Principal and athletic director should recognize that they have a polished diamond already in their program that can take Valencia basketball to new heights. Please don't bring in coaches from Saugus 0-10 league record this year or Canyon, retired from their school as a basketball coach. Your coach is at Valencia ready to go. --edited.

bricklayer: Posted: June 10, 2014 8:26 a.m.

If Valencia could get a coach with a track record of doing more with less - and doing it the right way - then they need to take that chance. Chad Phillips has done it the right way for over a decade and after a break probably is poised to reload and make another 10 year run again. Past performance is no guarantee of success - but it is the strongest indicator. Not to say ALex will not be a great coach someday, or even now, but Phillips is the "Phil Jackson" choice that really teaches the kids and preps them for life in addition to playing hard nosed basketball. Maybe Phillips head coach and ALex assistant would be the absolute best of both worlds...I hope the VHS school officials use the "getting the most out of a team" as the litmus test for picking their new coach. If that is the case the choice will be easy.

Train_Bball: Posted: June 10, 2014 3:46 p.m.

bricklayer, sounds like you've done some hw on this. I agree - Chad Phillips has what it takes. He has the ability to not only strengthen a program, but a school. Hopefully VHS is getting & considering the feedback from such forums as these.... Unlike Saugus, who recently fired their head basketball coach, who one season neglected to assure that the proper paperwork at the time was filed for the Varsity bball team to participate in the CIF playoffs and then to turn around and from my understanding hires a new Varsity Coach who had a similar paperwork mishap the same season. *See News Article--->
I'm sure there are a couple to a few good candidates for the Head Coach Position at Valencia, but Coach Phillips should be a top contender, if he is willing and wanting to do it at this time. I've also heard some good things about Coach Saint who has helped build Hart's basketball program into Foothill League Champions.

bricklayer: Posted: June 11, 2014 12:06 a.m.

Well - since I was challenged to "homework" I am sad to say - Phillips is not an option. On the job posting it says

" *A teaching assignment is not associated with this posting. Teachers employed at a different high school within the William S. Hart UHSD cannot be considered as a candidate for this coaching position." That cuts out the top option IMHO.

Interestingly it also says -

"Demonstrated ability and willingness to work enthusiastically and productively with the Valencia High School staff and administration."

Based on that language it would be assumed the position must come within (or with a prior VHS basketball coach). If that is the reality then it seems sort of obvious who their coach will be...

As far as Saint - I think he would be great. Not sure how his travel team/program would continue if he were to become a head coach at a public. --edited.

Train_Bball: Posted: June 11, 2014 1:46 p.m.

Soooo bricklayer, it sounds like they possibly may have already had or have a pretty good idea of who they are hiring....hmmm? Interesting.
Does not seem like much of a "NEW" direction that VHS Basketball program & school would be going in if they hire someone already there!?! When something as important like a Varsity Basketball program in a high school needs to go in a "NEW" direction, You would hope they would seriously consider something /someone not only "NEW" but much improved (if possible). Hopefully, they will be getting that, especially for the sake of the players & students. In these cases you just hope these moves / decisions, aren't calculated in any way and that they are truly being made in the best interest of the basketball program and school. Hopefully they aren't posting the position just for the sake of following some protocol!?!? It would be nice if they were truly considering all possibilities. Too bad about the Coach Phillips thing. Seems like if a school would benefit greatly from a Coach that they should work out the teaching thing!?! Still believe Coach Phillips could have been the BEST "NEW" direction to go in. Well, we probably will be hearing soon of the new hire (of course when their posting of the position requirement time is fulfilled?).... All so interesting.

You need to be a registered user to post a comment. Please click here to register.

The Signal encourages readers to interact with one another, following the guidelines outlined in our Comment/Moderation Policy. Click here to read it.

To report offensive or inappropriate comments, e-mail The content posted from readers of does not necessarily represent the views of The Signal or Morris Multimedia. By submitting this form you agree to the terms and conditions listed above. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...