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Nick Collins (Georgetown) likens his on- and off-field personality to his hometown of Carthage, N.C. He hunts, fishes, has a noticeable southern accent and talks about old friends like he’s reciting the lyrics of a country song.
But his calm demeanor and slow gait is replaced by a youthful intensity when he steps onto a baseball field. It’s that concoction— the quiet catcher with a an eye for detail and knack for on-the-fly adjustments — that has turned out an All-Star catcher that will compete with the league’s best at Doran Park at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Collins’ .329 average leads the Anglers and does his presence behind the plate, and here’s what he had to say about his path to the league’s late-summer classic — as well as where he wants to go next.
Jesse Dougherty: You seem to just love baseball and everything about it, when did that start'
Nick Collins: When I was a kid my dad and I would always go to Durham Bulls games. I loved those games, just taking note of everything and watching those guys play. I told my dad then, and I think I was 5 years old at the time, that I was going to play there one day. Said it right there. Obviously I would love to meet that goal or play anywhere else on that level one day, but I think that’s where it began.
J.D.: Now you seem pretty quiet off the field but you’re a loud guy on it, when does the transformation happen'
N.C.: I think I’m shy but I also think that I like to have fun and play around with the guys a lot. When I get on the field I come out of that a little because I take pride in controlling the game from behind the plate. I really like the way Brian McCann catches and commands a game, so I try and do that too. Catching is a lot about being the general and I’ve always been a catcher, so it’s my favorite part about it.
J.D.: You started every game for Georgetown this past spring and despite getting nicked up a lot, have played in a lot of games for the Anglers. What is your key to staying physically ready every day'
N.C.: It’s a mental thing more than anything. If you come to the park every day thinking that you can play then you are going to, unless your injury is really bad. If you think you’re too tired or too sore than you are already playing from behind. I have a routine that I stick to of stretching and that helps me but I’d say that most of it is just comes with thinking that I am good to play every day.
J.D.: Your season didn’t necessarily start off as an All-Star one. There was an adjustment to your swing that you with assistant coach Jay Grenier, what happened there'
N.C.: We were just working in the cage one day and Jay noticed that my front hip was leaking and that if I widened my stance a little bit I could fix that and get more balance. I used to have a wide stance but closed my feet a little bit at school, but I tried it and felt the difference right away. Helped me balance and stay on pitches. There wasn’t any kind of adjustment in games, right when I made the switch I started feeling better and hitting a lot better.
J.D.: So you have Jay to thank for the All-Star game'
N.C.: (Laughs) I think I do.
J.D.: When did you find out you were an All-Star'
N.C.: We were at a meeting at Y-D for scouting and I was actually sitting between Ty Moore and Kyle Davis (who are also playing for the East Division). They announced us all and we were just really excited and everyone was congratulated us. It felt good. Going in I knew there was a chance but I also knew I was right on the edge, and hearing my name was a big relief. Getting selected to the team with a league full of great players is just such an honor, it’s hard to put into words really.
J.D.: Obviously you have a lot of baseball ahead of you but as a catcher, have you put any thought into one day becoming a manager one day'
N.C.: Oh yeah, a lot of thought. I defintely want to be a manager one day. I’m majoring in business management at Georgetown so I better manage something, baseball or not. I think that I see the game in a way that would allow me to manage well and I know that once I’m done playing, whenever that may be, I won’t want to stop being around the game.
J.D.: Since you think about being a manager, do you know what kind of manager you’d be'
N.C.: I really like the way John Schiffner manages. I think I’d want to be a lot like him.