Hoping to gain some collegiate interest, Huntingtown senior Shania Collins began calling coaches prior to the start of the indoor track season.
The senior sprinter kept hearing the same response: Her times weren’t good enough.
That changed soon after the Virginia Tech High School Invitational February in Blacksburg, when Collins ran the 300-meter dash in 38.47 seconds, setting a personal best with a first-place finish.
Collins didn’t need to call coaches anymore. They started contacting her.
One of the schools that turned her down in December was Texas. Longhorns associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey initially told Collins she wasn’t a fit for the roster. But after Collins’ outing at Virginia Tech, Buford-Bailey reached out. Following a recruiting visit to Austin last week, Collins committed to the Longhorns and signed her National Letter of Intent this week.
“All the people there were really nice,” Collins said. “They want you to do good. A lot of [the coaches and track athletes] ran in the Olympics, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was little.”
Collins chose Texas over Texas A&M and Tennessee. The Longhorns finished the indoor season ranked fifth in the nation and are third thus far in the outdoor season. Collins never considered Texas’s initial denial a slight, she said. Instead, she was pleased Buford-Bailey eventually recognized her talent.
“She said, ‘You did what you had to do. You got our attention,’” Collins said.
Collins finished her indoor season with a national title in the 200 (23.82) at the New Balance Indoor National meet in New York. That came after running a U.S. No. 2 time of 23.81 in the preliminary race. She also helped her Huntingtown Hurricanes win their first-ever state indoor championship at the MPSSAA 3A meet en route to All-Met Athlete of the Year honors.
Another draw for Collins is that she’ll be able to major in either broadcast journalism or sports management. She expressed her interest in the school’s Longhorn Network, which is affiliated with ESPN.
Collins said she will run the 200 in college, with the Texas coaching staff deciding whether to run her in the 100 or 400 as well. She said the sudden burst on the national level resulted from a two-a-days training regimen that included practices with her club team at the Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover and with her Huntingtown teammates in the same day.
To get to this level, Collins has made sacrifices. But the reward, she said, is worth it.
“It’s every little thing from eating, sleeping to when I get to go out with friends,” Collins said. “It all changes now. It all revolves around practice time.”