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Despite injury, Midway loved Central's Collins

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By Mike Farner

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – Bullitt Central senior Kristen Collins finding her way to Midway College to play women’s basketball had a few hurdles before it all became official recently.

     First, Collins suffered a serious knee injury during a holiday tournament and did not play the rest of the season for the Lady Cougars. Second, Midway switched coaches after an eight-win season.

     Through it all, the two never lost sight of each other. It all recently became official when Collins signed all of the paperwork to attend the all-girls college in Midway, Kentucky.

     Collins was already on crutches when she visited Midway College druign the winter. The visit came on the Eagles’ Senior Night.

     “I like Midway because it was small and pretty close to home,” Collins said after handling all the paperwork at a ceremony in the Bullitt Central lobby with her family, coaches and teammates present.

     The injury to Collins’ right knee didn’t scare away Midway even during the coaching change.

     “It worried me,” Collins admitted of the injury turning some schools away. “I knew I had to tell them. I knew that they would help me.”

     Collins plans to be ready to go when the fall conditioning starts for her freshman season. She was walking without crutches in early-May when she signed with Midway.

     “It’s getting better she said. “I’m starting to jog now. But I haven’t played basketball since the injury.”

     The 18-year old daughter of Tammy and Rick Collins was having a strong season for Bullitt Central when she went down with the injury. Without her, the Lady Cougars struggled with their outside shooting the rest of the season.

     Collins has an older sister, Tiffany Walker, a Bullitt Central graduate. Her grandmother, Willodene Gurnod, also attended the signing ceremony.

     At Midway, Collins plans on working toward a degree in Special Education.

     When asked about a special memory she will take from playing for five seasons at Bullitt Central, Collins responded with being part of a junior-varsity squad that twice won the county championships during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

     Collins grew up in Bullitt County and played basketball at Bernheim Middle School before joining the Bullitt Central program. Basketball was the only sport she played at Bullitt Central.

     New Midway head coach Tom Nash was present at the signing. He had been on the job only five weeks when he got the signature from Collins and her parents.

     “We’re sort of used to the ACL tears,” Nash said. “The coach who is our student assistant has torn both of hers. That didn’t scare us off at all. We have a good trainer.

     “She says she will be back in June and that is fine,” the Midway coach said. “Whatever the doctor says. I don’t want her in any open gyms or street ball until she gets with us.”

     Midway has both a varsity and a junior-varsity team, but Nash is hoping that Collins can help with the varsity right out of the gate.

     Midway College is part of the NAIA and plays in the Mid-South Conference. Last year’s team lost seven seniors according to Nash but will have only one senior this coming season.

     “We’re very young,” the new coach said.

     Collins played her first four seasons at Bullitt Central under head coach Bryan Bates. Before her senior season, Kyle Roach took over the program and he sure would have liked to have had Collins for a full season.

     Still, seeing her ready for college was a good day.

     “It’s a great day,” Roach said. “I’m excited for Kristen. It’s a good first step back for her. She is walking on the knee now. This will be good for her.”

     Roach has no doubt that Collins will play on the wing and be a shooting guard in college.

     “I think that is what she will be doing. Shooting the ball is her strength,” the coach said. “She had gotten better dribbling the ball. She will get stronger. That will benefit her at the next level.”

     Collins was averaging 12 points a game before her injury.