April 26, 2014
By Sean Brennan
Special to BIGEAST.com
In our latest installment of “Touching Base,” we catch up with Georgetown catcher Nick Collins. The sophomore sensation fills us in on what it’s like growing up in a tiny town in North Carolina, why you’re missing out if you’ve never attended the Buggy Festival, why deer – and other animals – fear him, why his love for Brian McCann is not as strong as it once was (Spoiler Alert: Damn Yankees) and how the Hoyas can still could make a run at the BIG EAST Tournament at the end of May.
BIGEAST.com: You grew up in Carthage, N.C., population 1,871. What was it like growing up in such a small town?
COLLINS: “It’s nice growing up in a small town like that because you know everyone around you. It’s a tightknit community, the whole community comes together for events like the Buggy Festival that we have and for high school football, basketball and baseball games. It’s nice knowing everyone around you and just having that connection.
BIGEAST.com: The Buggy Festival? Tell me about that. Is it the social event on the Carthage calendar every year?
COLLINS: “Yeah, kind of. We have it in downtown Carthage which is by the court house on the one main street through downtown. It’s full with food vendors and entertainment and people from all over come down to look around and buy some stuff. It’s just a good time. I’ve been there a couple of times, but I don’t get to go every year of course now being that I’m up here but it is a pretty big event in Carthage.”
(Just so you are in the know, the Buggy Festival, started in 1988, is held each year to commemorate the famous Tyson & Jones Buggy factory that, from the mid-1880s to the 1920s, produced the carriages that were essential to life in rural North Carolina. So says the town’s webpage townofcarthage.org. Sadly for Nick, he will miss the Festival again this year as Georgetown will be at Butler for a weekend series).
Was there a big adjustment for you going from such a small town like Carthage to a big metro area like Washington D.C.?
COLLINS: “There was definitely an adjustment. It was tough the first couple of months to get acclimated to the change. One of the main things was the traffic, but luckily enough I don’t have a car so I don’t have to deal with it. But living on campus you’re kind of secluded from everything else. You can go out and get a bite on M Street or go see a movie or go bowling. There is a lot of entertainment stuff on M Street if you want to go out and do stuff like that. But as far as that goes, campus is its own environment. But it’s definitely a change I had to get used to when I moved up here.”
BIGEAST.com: I hear you’re an avid hunter and fisherman. Are those pretty common hobbies and pastimes back home in Carthage?
COLLINS: “Oh yeah, definitely. All my friends from high school, anytime I get to come home on winter break, we’ll get together and we’ll go deer hunting or any kind of hunting that’s in season at the time. Then when I go home (in the offseason) the catfish start running so me and my dad and a couple of my buddies will plan a camping trip up to the lake and catch us a good mess of catfish and fry them up. It’s definitely a big thing back where I’m from. In D.C. you don’t really see it, you see people fish in the Potomac (River) and there’s a lot of deer up here but I know you’re not allowed to hunt them. But growing up it was definitely a connection I was able to make with my dad and my brothers and all my buddies back home, just getting to spend that time with them.”
BIGEAST.com: So you’re dad introduced you to hunting?
COLLINS: “Yeah. It was around the age of 10 when I first started hunting and fishing and I’ve been doing it ever since then. I love it.”
BIGEAST.com: What else do you hunt other than deer?
COLLINS: “Doves. But I don’t get to dove hunt when I’m up here because it’s in-season when I’m at school. Turkey hunting is the same way now. But I’ve hunted for squirrels, rabbits, deer, turkeys, doves, I’ve done it all.”
BIGEAST.com: Is deer hunting your favorite?
COLLINS: “It’s close between deer hunting and turkey hunting but I think deer hunting is my favorite.”
BIGEAST.com: Moving on to baseball, so far this season you’re tops on the Hoyas in average, at bats and hits, you’re tied for first in RBI and second in runs scored. You can’t do much better than that now can you?
COLLINS: “This year is going pretty well, I can’t complain. I’m seeing the ball well and this year is going pretty well.”
BIGEAST.com: You put up pretty gaudy numbers as a freshman last year so was that a confidence builder and is this kind of just picking up where you left off last year?
COLLINS: “It was definitely a confidence builder knowing I had the capacity to carry those numbers as a freshman and I could bring that into my sophomore season. Last year I kind of got off to a slow start getting used to Division I pitching, but once you start seeing that day-in and day-out, it’s pretty much like anything else, you see it and you get your timing right. But I did have confidence from my freshman year and this past summer going into this year. I had big expectations and hopefully I’ll put up big numbers.” (Going into the Hoyas April 25 game at St. John’s, Nick is, indeed, putting up some big numbers. He’s batting .361 with 52 hits, 32 RBI and 22 runs scored)
BIGEAST.com: You recently received an invitation to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer. That’s a huge deal for a college player. What are your thoughts on your accomplishment?
COLLINS: “I’m going to be playing with the Chatham Anglers this summer. I’m really excited about that. I’ve looked up the history (of the league) and Chatham is one of the better programs as far as historically and baseball-wise. I heard it’s one of the more fun places to play, too, so I’m really fortunate to get to play up there this summer. It will definitely be new for me going up that area. I’ve never been further up than New Jersey and that was last year playing at Seton Hall and Rutgers. It will be a new experience. I’m hoping to get a job up there, enjoy the beach, make some money, and go to play baseball.”
BIGEAST.com: I see you’re a Brian McCann fan. As a fellow catcher do you try and pick up anything from his game that you might try to incorporate into yours?
COLLINS: “I do. I wasn’t a big fan of him going from the Braves to the Yankees but I still enjoy watching him play. I really enjoy watching Brian McCann behind the plate and hit as well. I enjoy his game. He’s fun to watch.”
BIGEAST.com: Georgetown is struggling right now in conference play, but with a little over three weeks left in the regular season, is there still time for the Hoyas to make a run and qualify for one of the four spots in the BIG EAST Tournament?
COLLINS: “There definitely is. We have all the tools to make a run. But as coach (Pete) Wilk has said in the past, we’ve just had a hard time putting all three aspects of the game together – pitching, defense and hitting. We’ll have one clicking but not have the other two clicking at the same time. We’re a really good team so there’s definitely room for us to make a run. We just have to work as a team, keep our heads up and make a run.”