Q&A with Will Collins
Virginia senior golfer Will Collins, the captain of this year’s team, is in the twilight of his college career. He and the rest of the UVa squad will play the Cavalier Classic Saturday at Birdwood Golf Course. Collins, who has played a key role in helping Virginia to three consecutive NCAA Championship appearances, talks about his college experience.
Question: What are you thoughts about playing the Cavalier Classic this weekend?
Collins: Every week you want to tee it up and win. No one wants to lose. That’s not what we play for. It is a little different this week because we know the track better than the other teams. Most importantly, it is for our confidence going into NCAA regionals and hopefully nationals. I think that is the biggest thing.
Question: Do you like having a tournament date on the schedule after the ACC Championships and before a NCAA regional?
Collins: Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It is fun to have a home tournament because your friends and family can come out and watch and it’s a fun time. It just happens to be at the time you are trying to wrap up school and get ready for finals. Overall it helps to keep you sharp for the next rodeo.
Question: Does it seem like your four years at Virginia have passed by quickly?
Collins: Some days yes and some days no. Some days it can’t come fast enough and some days you think, ‘This is about over?’ When you sit and think about it, it does not seem that long ago I was 18 years old and teeing it up for Virginia for the first time.
Question: What is your favorite UVa golf memory?
Collins: Probably my first year when we made it to regionals, which was kind of a gift, and we were about 10 shots back going into the final round. We made it made it through somehow to nationals. It was kind of a miracle. That was a big step for our program. That helped to put us on the map.
Question: What is your favorite non-golf memory of your time at UVa?
Collins: I’ve had a good time since I’ve been here. One of the guys on the tour is also from Salisbury and he told me school was about learning, but also having as much fun as you can and playing golf in between. That’s kind of how I’ve done it.
Question: What’s your favorite UVa sports memory outside of golf?
Collins: Watching football my first year (2007) was pretty exciting. They had a lot of great players and a really good squad and they squeaked out a lot of games at the end and went to the Gator Bowl. I think when you have a good football team fall goes by even faster because you have something to pull for on Saturdays. That was a lot of fun.
Question: What is your major and what are your plans following graduation?
Collins: I am a kinesiology major and have a specializing in health and physical education. After this four years I get a victory lap and I go to grad school here for education and then I’ll hopefully turn pro after that.
I was a history major when I first applied to the Curry School, but I decided sports medicine was more fun and I went in that direction. Growing up I had a couple of teachers who were big influences in my life and I thought that maybe someday I would follow that route of being a teacher. To me, grad school is going to be important if I can’t play golf for a living. You can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. That’s just a bad plan. I think it is important for my generation to have a graduate degree. Maybe some day I’ll coach at the college level or maybe teach.
Question: You were one of 36 ACC student-athletes to receive a Weaver-James-Corrigan Scholarship which is given to selected student-athletes who intend to pursue a graduate-level degree following graduation. How did that make you feel?
Collins: Until I attended the luncheon in Greensboro, I didn’t know that much about it or how big of a deal it was. It was very impressive. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel like I belonged when you heard the accomplishments of some of the other recipients. It was flattering and it will certainly look good on my resume.
Question: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned at UVa?
Collins: You come from a small pond and you are a big fish and everyone knows who you are and they all care about you. You get here and you realize that no one knows you or really cares who you are. You are the same as everybody else. You have to learn to deal with a lot of things yourself that you probably never had to deal with before. So I think it is a lot about growing up and being responsible and dealing with people that you probably never interacted with before. When I first got to UVa, Sarge (Bowen Sargent) told me that 80 percent of what you learn will come from outside the classroom and 20 percent from inside the classroom. I kind of dismissed that and said to myself, ‘Yeah, right.’ But now that I’m the old man here, I realize he was right.
Question: What’s been your best road trip with the team?
Collins: This year going to Hawaii, without a doubt. It was pretty cool to go to a place you may not get too many chances to visit. To go there during your senior year and hang out at a really nice place for a week when it was cold back here was pretty awesome.
Question: What’s the one thing you wish you experienced at UVa that you didn’t because of your commitment to golf?
Collins: I always wondered what frats were about. I don’t really have time for that, but if I was a regular student it was probably something I would have participated in.
Question: 30 years from how you’ll look back and think …?
Collins: I imagine that I would not trade this for anything. You learn a lot thing by playing sports and having to make sacrifices that most people don’t have to make while they are in school. I think those lessons will probably be invaluable no matter what you end up doing.