Chris Collins has a distinguished career in hockey. He is a Rochester area native proud to be giving back to hockey players in the area.
“I grew up here in Rochester.” He starrted a Evolve Sports Group, a hockey focused player training and development firm in the town seven years ago. In the winter of 2019-2020 Bishop Kearney came to him pitch the idea of creating a residential program using models of other prep schools in the area. Collins said that “things are going real well. It’s great for the city.”
After he was done playing he wanted to stay in the game. Now he gives back to his hometown in the Rochester area. Collins is from Pittsford New York. He said that “I couldn’t be happier in what I’m doing.”
Collins got into the game young. His father and grandfather got him into the game. His grandfather built a rink in his parents backyard when he was two years old. He never wanted to leave the rink to go inside for the night, and wanted to be around hockey all day . He said “ that’s really how we got good at hockey. That’s really all I know.”
Soon after that exposure and with that as a base he went to and played four years for Jerry York at Boston College. Collins reflected on that time saying “one thing of the biggest things I learned at BC was how to be a professional. Hockey was the least of the things I learned there. I never would have played professionally ( without going to Boston College.)”
Over the past two years, things have grown for Collins and the BK ( Bishop Kearney) Selects.
The first season they had 60 players in the Covid marred season. “We didn’t know where we were going two days before we went there.”While the program is going into it’s third season, in reality it is the second season with a normal cadence of a school year and hockey season to go on. The program went from two teams on the boys’ side to four teams last season.They expect to have 80 players in their program on the boys side of things this year. They had a u18 u16 u15, and u14 team last year. All teams finished top five at Nationals.
Collins took the time to talk about the process of developing players. As a director, he deals with families and players looking to move up the rungs of development all the time. As such, him and his staff deal with advisors and parents wondering when their student athlete can move up to the next level and play junior hockey. Collins stressed being first focused on player development and being up front with those in his program.
All coaches are involved with scouting process. They are partnered with Prime Hockey that runs a lot of tournament programs around the country. For those looking to move up they connect. The players have to apply to get into Bishop Kearney and move forward.
As to the process of relationship building and development of players on and off the ice Collins said, “we have ten full time hockey staff here. All of us could be advisors, and have connections into junior hockey. We will give the kids advice from our staff here at BK, we are in the business of developing kids and players here at BK. Its more getting to know these families “
In the summer Collins was pleased with adding a full time residential life staff. For this year they built out their residential life staff that is really “firing on all cylinders.”
Residence life helps coordinate activities and provide programming and other things. Players have a full schedule and practice throughout six days of the week. ( they will do yoga instead of hockey on Mondays). Residence life helps provide fun programming for the players so kids can still have fun experiences off campus. They get players from all around the country and know the value of giving outlets and chances for kids to build lifelong friendships on and off the ice.
They offer over two million dollars in financial aid every single year. “We try hard to make sure families can afford to pay what they can.”
They are starting a hockey booster club to help build up the endowment funds to help with getting more players to the school. This endowment would help player tuition go to long term capital projects over time and work to build the campus of Bishop Kearney and the hockey program. The future of the program is bright, and Collins is happy to be a part of an environment. The season starts in a couple of weeks for all teams and BK Selects will be competing and looking to do even better this season and beyond.
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