Collins enjoys spending time helping, coaching area youth

Published 11:26 pm Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tim Collins loves his wife, Valrie, and his daughter, Kesha.

But even his wife and daughter are aware of his other love: Sports.

Collins, 58, has spent his life surrounding himself with sports in various ways.

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He has been a little league, high school and college official and umpire. He has coached football and baseball at the youth league and high school levels, and he has been involved in various volunteer activities such as the Gus Macker tournament.

“I’ve been involved in sports all my life. God blessed me with two good eyes, two good legs and two good arms. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t be around sports,” said Collins.

His resume is proof.

Collins began umpiring little league baseball with the late Red Dutey who was a legendary football coach at Coal Grove and co-founder of the Ohio Valley Conference.

He served as a football and basketball referee and baseball umpire for 27 years.

“I umpired college baseball at Rio Grande and at Marshall with Joe Butcher when Jack Cook was the coach,” said Collins. “Back then you just had to have a high school license to do college. We got $10 or $15 a game.”

Besides college baseball, Collins started officiating high school football with Ralph “Doodle” Kratzenberg, Dick Kratzenberg, George “Mush” McMillan and Junior Jackson.

Along with doing high school games, Collins also officiated grade school games and even coached at the grade school level. He worked four West Virginia state championship games during his career.

“We did midget league football for a Burger Chef hamburger and some french fries. We didn’t take any money. We gave it to the kids,” said Collins.

The basketball officiating career included Marshall junior varsity games at Memorial Field House. Collins began calling game with two men who have made names in other professions.

“I started calling basketball with Dan Ross and Gene Bennett,” said Collins, referring to Ross who is the commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association and Bennett who is the senior special assistant to the Cincinnati Reds’ general manager Walt Jocketty.

But Collins began suffering fainting spells that were later diagnosed by a doctor at Riverside Hospital in Columbus as a collapsed valve. Collins had a pacemaker inserted to regulate the blood to his heart.

“I have more energy now than Kellogg’s has cornflakes. I never wear out,” said Collins.

The medical setback had a bigger impact on Collins. He was placed on disability and he had to quit his job with the Village of Coal Grove. Doctors also told him he could no longer officiate sports.

“Officiating was hard to give up. I asked the doctor if I could help as a volunteer with the teams and they said go ahead. I love being around the kids,” said Collins.

In stepped Mike Burcham, then athletic director at Ironton High School and assistant football coach.

“Mike called me and said ‘Why don’t you help with football? You’re always around here in baseball.’ So I started helping in 1990 and I’ve been with them ever since,” said Collins.

Collins is still a junior varsity baseball coach at Ironton but he is more noticeable during football season helping with the equipment and officiating practice scrimmages.

“I just do whatever (head coach) Bob (Lutz) or Mike (Burcham) ask me to do,” said Collins.

Although Collins loves being involved in sports, there is more on his schedule.

He served as an Upper Township trustee until forced to quit. He was also on the building committee at his church, Sharon Baptist.

Still, sports have kept Collins active.

“I’ve been in sports all my life. It’s been a nice ride,” said Collins. “I love seeing the older kids who have played and come back and talk.”