Since graduating from Carroll County High School in 1994, Chad Collins has been deeply involved with the N.C. State basketball program. That involvement turned into a family affair December 14 when Collins worked as a substitute statistician for the Wolfpack’s home game with Detroit and his son Brady served as a ball boy.
“It’s funny because when I was head manager and overseeing the team doing it, we would be in charge of ball boys, so we would meet with them to give them the shirts and tell them what to do,” said Collins, who held several different roles within the N.C. State basketball program from 1994-2004. “Everything goes full circle because now I am handing off a ball boy to a manager. It was really exciting to see him get that opportunity.”
The son of Charles and Brenda Collins, Chad actually grew up as a University of Virginia fan during his days in Hillsville. But after applying to a dozen or so universities across the region, Collins ended up going to N.C. State for academics first – with a big emphasis on basketball.
The Wolfpack already had a bit of a Carroll County pipeline going as Matt Phillips was the team’s head basketball manager before Collins. Phillips became basketball manager at N.C. State, Collins said, because of Franklin Jett, who was basketball manager at East Tennessee State for Les Robinson before Robinson came to Raleigh to coach the Wolfpack when Phillips was in school there.
“And I came to State because Matt helped me get on as a basketball statistician/manager,” Collins said.
Collins began working for the N.C. State basketball program during his freshman year in the fall of 1994 as a statistician. He quickly moved up through the ranks as a student manager before graduating with a degree in Marketing Education in 1999. From there, he worked as a grad assistant until he received his Master’s Degree in Technology Education in 2002. After that, he worked fulltime in the N.C. State basketball office as “an assistant director of basketball operations-type role” until October of 2004. During that time, he was in and around the N.C. State basketball program daily for 10 years, working under Robinson and later Herb Sendek. It was a magical period for Collins.
“We got to travel to different places and every opposing gym in the ACC. During my time here it was amazing. We went on a couple of runs to ACC championship games,” Collins said. “It was always awesome to be on the court during the ACC Tournament. That was always my favorite day of the year growing up. That Friday ranked ahead of Christmas in my book.”
During that time, Collins also had the opportunity to travel with the team to Puerto Rico and other cool places for tournaments. He was on the court against many legendary coaches, including former UNLV legend Jerry Tarkanian when he was at Fresno State, former Temple legend John Chaney, as well as several legendary ACC coaches such as Dean Smith and Mike Krzyzewski.
“There were just tons and tons of neat experiences and neat stories,” Collins said. “I did get to travel to the NCAA Tournament a couple of times. When we finally made it back to the tourney in 2002, I was there when we beat Michigan State in the first round and lost a heartbreaker to Caron Butler and UConn in the second round. But after being around a program for eight years and finally making it to the NCAA Tournament and the ACC Championship game, that was special. In the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, we actually beat Maryland, who went on to win the NCAA title that year.”
Collins’ passion for N.C. State basketball is certainly shared by his family. His wife, Mary Catherine, is a third-generation Wolfpacker, as her father and grandfather are both N.C. State grads. The couple named their oldest child Brady William Collins. William comes from William Neal Reynolds Coliseum, the home of N.C. State basketball for 50 years prior to the opening of the PNC Center.
Ironically, Brady’s recent gig as ball boy came during N.C. State’s annual “heritage” game in the Coliseum he’s named for on Dec. 14 against Detroit. The Wolfpack still play one game a year in Reynolds. Brady also filled the role of ball boy in N.C. State’s opener against Appalachian State.
“Reynolds Coliseum is one of my favorite places on the planet,” Collins said. “To work that game with him there was very exciting.”
Brady is eight years old. Chad and Mary Catherine have two other children, Austin, age 5, and Macie, who will turn three in January.
While Collins still fills in as statistician occasionally for radio broadcasts of N.C State games, he now works full time for Primesport out of Raleigh. There, he stays active in the sporting world, helping customers put together full-service travel packages to major sporting events such as the Kentucky Derby, Final Four, and the BCS National Championship Game, among others. Primesport also is the official travel provider for almost all NASCAR tracks as well as several NFL teams.
“I have been in sports since I started playing for the Bank of Carroll Cardinals in second grade,” Collins said jokingly. “There’s quite a bit of travel involved, but I’ve seen some really cool events. Probably the favorite event I’ve been to is Wimbledon. That was awesome. And the Kentucky Derby is amazing. I’ve been to a couple of BCS National Championship games, a couple of Final Fours, and a Rose Bowl.”
Currently, he is busy helping Florida State and Auburn fans with their packages to the BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, California.
“We have several collegiate accounts, so bowl travel keeps us busy during the winter,” Collins said. “That is the reason I am behind on my Christmas shopping.”