Collins scaled back his participation in Andover athletics in his later years, though he remained a scout and mentor for the football team until 2012 and was involved in the track program even up to this year.
“In 2010, he was still animated, would come around, talk to the kids, tell them what it was like,” Perry said.
That 2010 team started off the season 1-3 before going on to win the next seven straight games to capture the state title — the Golden Warriors’ first since 1977 under Collins.
“He set a tone in the ‘70s, and he set a tone in 2010,” Perry said.
Collins was equally respected as an elected official.
As he got older and had difficulty getting around town, School Committee Chairman Dennis Forgue said he would drive Collins to events. During those outings, Forgue came to appreciate the octogenarian’s true impact.
“Uncountable numbers of people would come up to him and see him, greet him, have exceptionally kind comments,” Forgue said. “He touched not hundreds, but thousands of lives in this community.”
School Committee member Annie Gilbert said Collins’ record of service to the Andover Public Schools will never be equaled.”
“I just feel like, as a School Committee member, all of us who served with him on the School Committee knew that our contributions were just a drop in the bucket compared to what he has done over the years,” she said.
Throughout his decades in town, Collins carried two quotes that every one of his athletes took to heart, according to Perry.
The first — “It’s not what a man or woman can do. It’s what they can do when they’re knocked down” — is one Perry continues to pass down to his athletes today.
The other — “Quit doesn’t exist in football” — is one that has stayed with Comeau.