FEATURE: Sherron Collins First Year Coaching

Coach Sherron Collins Sets Sights on Year One: Hopes, Struggles, and Goals for the Firebirds


Chloe Cook

Varsity Boys Basketball head coach, Sherron Collins joins in with Cortez Overstreet and Zeek Brown in the traditional Alma Matter celebration played after the first home game win against Gardner-Egerton. Starting the season, one of Collin’s biggest goals was to connect with the players off the court on a personal level.

Nick Sprecker

When former Kansas standout Sherron Collins was announced as the boys’ basketball head coach, it sent a wave of excitement throughout the Firebird fanbase. The start of the season aroused curiosity throughout the Lawrence community and excitement for the players, who have the opportunity to be coached by a player who helped the University of Kansas [KU] hoops win a national championship in 2008. 

Making the transition from player to coach brought Collins to important realizations. 

“Patience, gotta have patience,” Collins said. “I didn’t understand that when I was a player. I always thought my coach was just tripping all the time. But now I see those same traits, and I make sure my players know I’m not coming from a bad place. I pride myself on being a players coach.” 

The Firebirds saw a lot of talent graduate last year, which demands a new cast of players to fill many large shoes. For Collins, it’s a battle he is ready to face head-on.  

“We have to tip our cap to Stroh and his staff,” Collins said. “They did a great job preparing [the players] and they’re ready to step into that same role. Obviously, we’re not as talented as that team. We’ve got to hang our hats on a couple of different things as far as defense, being the toughest team, getting on the floor, and winning 50/50 balls.” 

The Sunflower League is unforgiving, but offers opportunities for team growth and improvement. Collins wants to see the team begin to put more faith in each other in those tough times. 

“The little things—togetherness, trusting in each other, passing up a good shot for a great shot —that’s the motto and that’s how we try to play,” Collins said. “I do the same thing with the seniors. I hold them accountable. They’re our captains. They’re so willing to learn and they’re coachable and it makes it all worth it.” 

Senior forward Will Mlynek spoke highly of Collins’ distinct, effective way of making players feel valued in his system. 

“The way he’s come in here not having coached high school ever, which is way different than the Amateur Athletic Union [AAU], he’s adapted well,” Mlynek said. “It’s easier to get through to players in high school if you have a personal connection with them. He’s good at developing that personal connection.” 

Furthermore, Mlynek made it clear that the team has a larger, more salient goal in mind.

“Everyone’s goal and expectation is to win,” Mlynek said. “It’s what we all want.” 

Sophomore guard Korbin Dowdell has the same mindset. 

“Our goal is to definitely win a state championship,” Dowdell said. “Sherron and the coaching staff are pushing us in the right way toward that goal. We just have to stay composed and stay true to who we are.”

Additionally, Dowdell has seen positive growth throughout the program since Collins’ arrival. 

“There’s definitely been a culture change,” Dowdell said. “I’ve liked it because he’s really checking our attendance and getting our grades right. He’s been a father figure in a way, just giving us tips and showing us the way. A lot of us trust him because he played at the Division 1 level.”

For Collins, it will always be bigger than basketball, because one day the ball will stop bouncing regardless of the strides you take in your career. 

“I want them to never give up, never settle, and only worry about controlling things that you can control,” Collins said. “What excites me is seeing them succeed and seeing them excel. When we teach them something and see them go do it, it’s a different feeling.”