Today we chat with San Lorenzo Valley coach, Rob Collins. He had an immediate impact at SLV when he started there in the late 90s. His girls' teams have won 4 California state championships during his tenure at SLV. You can check out other accomplishments by his cross country and track and field teams below. Both of his teams are ranked in the top 15 in CCS this year and both will be contenders for state meet berths come championship season in Division IV. 1) How did you get your start in running? What were some of your early successes?
I started running in 6th grade at Lincoln park elementary in Portland, Oregon. I would say it came naturally for me I guess. Back then we ran 1200m. To this day, I still hold the 6th grade and 8th grade 1200m District and Multnomah county records I ran 1200m in 3:43 in the 6th grade and improved 10 seconds per year. I remember my very first loss my freshman year on the track that was to Dub Meyers of Park Rose High school. He was a senior that year and went on to University of Oregon. 2) What were some of your achievements in high school? College and beyond? I had a really rough year my freshman year in high school. My parents divorced and I chose to live with my father. I started running at Centennial high school, for a few weeks, then we moved across town and went to Gresham High school and continued running XC there. When the season ended, we moved again to another local high school David Douglas High school in Portland and started Track there but that didn't last too long and moved again that spring back to Centennial High school and remained there next 3.5 years. It was hard for me at that time to commit to have friends not knowing what would happen next. So I put a lot of focus on my running because it felt like it was my world where I could be free! As an athlete I had qualified all 4 years to the State XC Championships, Placing 28th my freshman year, 12th sophmore year, 6th junior year and Runner-up My Senior to Brad Hudson in 84. I accomplished the same feat all through Track by Qualifying 4 four years in the 3000m which was my preferred distance at the time. I took a lot of 6th places, I felt like I didn't have the kick to stay with the group the last 300m. Which I feel makes me more of a middle distance coach these days. I never got to run the 800m too often-just 3 times in high school. Freshman 2:02.1, Soph 1:58.1, Senior year 1:56. So I always felt personally that if I had worked on the shorter distance I would had been able to have had a kick back then. It's a whole different area when you want to be an elite high school runner. I had missed 9 weeks my junior year of Track due to a very bad syst that kept me in the hospital for a week The operation left me healing from the inside out. So if I ran, it would open up on me. The doctors would not release me to run until a week prior to the League Track Championship. I wanted still run the Championships to qualify for state regardless and I felt because I was the defending league champion, I belonged there. With a week of training behind me I ran 4:00.1 in the 1500m for 2nd and won the 3000m just under 8:50 to qualify for State. I had to decided to run both because I had nothing to lose anyway because under the circumstances, I had already accomplished my goal. So I really didn't care how I did. That was a life memory that I will never forget! I didn't run In college. I was suppose to head down to Taft College in 85 to run but things had changed for me and was scared to move. So I stayed home and went to Mt. Hood Community college and ran there. Didn't do much there. Biggest accomplishment there was winning the Regional Championship. Running was slowly falling apart for me at that time! So I decided to join the Army instead. I took 3 years off from running until I met Brian Appell in Germany and started getting back into It. The next thing I was running on the All-Army Team for a year until I got out and ended back up in Gresham Oregon! Sorry for being so long but you asked! 3) Where did you get your start in coaching? What were some of your highlights at that school?
I first started Coaching in the Fall of 92 to the Spring of 97 at Sandy High school in Sandy, Oregon. Accomplishments were winning the boys first ever League XC Championshipsin 94, 95 and 96. Coaching State Champion Pamela Johnson (96) 3000m 10:13, (97) 9:59 a Pr of 9:52, and (97) 1500m 4:31.32, Robert Rivers, a runner-up 1500m in 96, And Brian Halstead 800m Runner-up in 96. State Champion in (97) 400m 48.18. He was disqualified and was not able to compete in the 800m at league championships. I had wished to this day I had stayed for his senior year to coach him!
4) Who were your coaching mentors?
Coaching mentors for me included Greg Letts Centennial High School he ended up being a father figure that I needed deeply at that time! He is still coaching at this time! Brian Appell who brought me back into running world in Germany and I would say Greg Gustafson from Portland, Oregon! 5) How did you end up coaching at San Lorenzo Valley?
I moved to the Valley for a business situation me and my wife went into at that time. We had become owner operators of Grocery Outlet in Felton in the Summer of 98. When we first moved, I had never planned on getting into coaching at all. But it was, I would say in my blood, so I went up to SLV just to help out and volunteer two days a week. Then I All Stared! 6) From your first few years there, who were some of the runners that helped change the culture of the team to a winning one? This is a easy question, for sure Alejandra Barrientos, I saw a young lady with a lot of talent and I took her to the side and just started coaching her. Then After that from Shiloh Whiting , Raquel Barrientos, Hillary Scwhartzbach, Jenny Lewis, Lindsey Scharborough, Emily Romo, Stephanie Hamilton, Deane sister's Kelle, Lindsey and Allison and of Course Taylor Johnson and then Alex Dunn, Russell Bush, Chris Proffitt and Allan Hetke. It just became the thing to do up in the Valley for awhile. I think the hardest thing we've had to adjust to is we used to be 1100+ student body now we are 700+. But I love being a small fish in a big pond! 7) What have been some of your team's achievements at SLV in Cross Country (league, section and state titles)?
+League Championship 5, It's nice having a rival like Aptos. I have a lot of respect for Dan Gruber even if he doesn't know it!
+CCS Championships 7 Girls and 1 for the Boys.
+ State Championships 4 State Titles, 2 State runner-ups teams and 3 others in the top 7.
+ Alejandra Barrientos Individual State Champion 99, Footlocker Qualifier in 1999
+ Alex Dunn State Champion 2002, Runner 2003, Footlocker Qualifier in 2003
+ Taylor Johnson State Runner-up 2005 8) What about track and field highlights for your teams and individuals?
+ High School National Record Girls Distance Medley Relay in 2000. + Alejandra Barrientos 1600m CCS Champion 1999,2000 and 2001 + Alejandra Barrientos 1600m State Champion 1999 and 2001 + Alejandra Barrientos 1600m Indoor National Champion 2000 + Alejandra Barrientos 1500m Outdoor Junior National Champion 1999 + Alex Dunn 1600m CCS Champion 2003 + Taylor Johnson 1600m CCS Champion 2006,2007 and 2008 9) What do you feel are some of advantages of training in the area around San Lorenzo Valley HS? We are in a very fortunate area, a lot of trails and hills just 50yds from the new all-weather put in 2006, Fall Creek. We can easly go out and run a 6 to 10 miles behind the school. Then having Henry Cowell State park a Mile down the road. We are very lucky so I just use what I have around me! It's just a great area for tempo's, long run or hill workouts or even me catching the kids soaking in Fall Creek when they are suppose to be running or in San Lorenzo River! 10) You have had several state championship teams in cross country. What do you feel are the keys to performing well at the state meet on the Woodward Park course? I've always felt that you don't over-race in October as that is the last chance to get some great training in for November to carry on the base. Usually the flu season also hits. So, it's also the right time to rest those individuals. I've always felt that to prepare for the State Meet, the coach should trust his instincts and also listen to their athletes. Trust always goes a long way on both sides! Show them that you care for them like I feel I do. They might be my athletes now but they will always be my friends later! The course-just have a good plan with it, make sure your athletes understand what there role is and their goal. Just be happy regardless what happens! You are there aren't you! A lot of others are not, so be happy what you have accomplished! 11) What is your advice for young coaches just starting out with their first team? Advice for young coaches! Be patient! Get as much advice as you can from other coaches. Make sure that your athletes know what you are doing keep them involved. Get their trust and you'll get their's. Have a lot of fun. This year, on Saturdays when we don't have a meet, we always go out for breakfast, taking 20+ kids to a local restaurant which is quite funny and watching the boys eat all you can eat is another! Just being a team is very Important! 12) Anything else you would like to add. I would just like to thank my wife Carmen. She's has been battling cancer the last couple of years. I'm just glad everything is getting back to normal. I would also like to thank all the parents who have helped us a lot these last few years. Thank You!