Former educator played big role in basketball development in the Bahamas
Doug Collins, left, who lives in the Bahamas, with his brother Francis Collins.
By Lyle Carter
In 1975, Doug Collins visited the Bahamas. He enjoyed it so much that two years later he moved there.
"The people there reminded me of growing up in Nova Scotia," said Collins, a Truro native. "People said ‘good morning' and were very friendly."
Collins taught geography and civics for 34 years with the Ministry of Education in the Bahamas. He retired in 2012.
"I lived on the island of Abaco in the northeast during my early years teaching," said Collins, 71. "Later, I moved to Nassau, the capital, where I taught at A.F. Addderley Senior High School."
Collins also coached senior boys basketball for 22 years, running one of the most successful high school programs in the history of the Bahamas.
His highlights include coaching more than 10 championship teams, being named the head coach of the Bahamas national basketball team and coaching in a development program for senior graduates to prepare them for exposure to college and university recruiters.
"Coaching basketball has been a real good experience," Collins said. "I've had a number of players I coached go on and play professional basketball."
He described the lifestyle in the Bahamas as being a little bit laid back.
"You don't get the rush-rush aggressive pace," Collins said. "It is very peaceful and the climate is exceptional. You don't get the Canadian winters, if you know what I mean. People are very friendly and open but they have that, take-your-time attitude - don't rush for life -there's no big rush."
Collins grew up in Truro a large family, and looks back on his childhood in a positive light.
"There were 19 in our family," he said. "Although I grew up poor, I would not change my childhood for anything. There was always a pot on the stove. I'm thankful for the many sacrifices my dad, Ralph Collins, and my mother, Viola, made. I got a lot of good in life because of what my parents did for me."
Collins got involved in sports at a young age and recalled the days of playing with friends and staying active.
"There was no problem finding playmates because of the number and size of families in dominantly black communities," Collins said. "Whites and blacks, we played hockey on the ponds as well as touch football together over at Hector Hill's field.
"Sports really kept me out of trouble," he added. "Making friends with guys who were positive and who had higher standards in social life, that was all good."
Some of Collins' hockey teammates at Central School were Freddie Davis, Bob Crowell, Ian Cumming, Jimmy Frizzell, Graham Jackson, Jim Harris, Denny Clyke and Creighton Clyke.
"I remember playing against this goaltender from Brookfield," Collins said. "Either Denny Clyke or I would get inside his crease and try to take him out. Do you remember? Our coach Bob Gogan sort of instructed us how to work that maneuver. Bob Gogan taught us a lot. He was a great mentor, I think a lot of Bob."
Collins dropped out of school after completing grade 9 at Central School. Two years later, he moved to Montreal and attended high school and took up football. He later graduated from McGill University.
An outstanding defensive halfback and cornerback, he starred in Canadian junior football for the Rosemount Bombers. He earned a tryout with Montreal of the Canadian Football League and later played senior football in Quebec.
Collins recently returned to Truro where he caught up with family and friends.
"Being home while the Apex Golf Tournament was on allowed me to see many old friends," he said. "I've been visiting family members and it allows us to bond. There are many interesting changes in Truro landmarks and personally, I find Truro more integrated. I feel Truro is even friendlier then when I was a kid."
Collins was saddened by the recent death of his lifelong friend Burnley (Rocky) Jones. Collins delivered the eulogy at Jones's funeral, and described his friend as a hero.
Lyle Carter's column appears every Tuesday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a column idea, contact him at 673-2857.