Freshman Feature: Matt Collins
“I remember playing tee-ball when I was five or six, and for my first at-bat, I hit a double. Ever since then, I have loved playing baseball,” Matt Collins, the freshman shortstop said. “I was a multiple sport athlete in high school, and I played football and baseball. Before that, it was hockey for nine years as well as baseball. I eventually decided on baseball because I had a great group of friends in the sport.”
When Collins decided to play baseball at the collegiate level, he considered most of the Ivy League schools as potential destinations. He was determined to play baseball at a high level, as well as take advantage of the great opportunities available academically.
“Near the end, it came down to Columbia, Dartmouth, Bucknell, and Cornell. I met Coach Pep, and he really cared about where I was heading in my career,” he described.
Collins, a recruit from 45 minutes outside Chicago, has experienced an adjustment both physically and mentally moving to Cornell.
“At least I was used to the weather,” Collins stated with a chuckle. “From a baseball perspective, everyone is good. There are scouting reports on everyone. Off the field, balancing practices with school has been a tough adjustment.”
Even though it is a challenge, it is one Collins relishes.
When asked about the sense of camaraderie, Collins is hard pressed to think about one moment. Instead, it is about the season as a whole — all the times in the locker rooms and the long bus rides, which are truly long and grueling, as something that brings the team together.
“Putting in the work with them everyday makes them like your brothers,” Collins explained.
In his spare time, Collins enjoys hanging out with his friends, most of whom are athletes as well.
“Free time? What is that?” Collins joked. “I hang out with athletes a lot because they have similar schedules and understand the struggle of balancing sports and academics.”
Collins has been playing shortstop along with Ryan Krainz, an integral part of the Cornell offense and defensive alignment. He talked about how they pushed each other to get better collectively, resulting in a little helpful friendly competition.
“We compete on the field,” Collins said. “Positionally, he is a great player — great with the bat and great in the field. Watching him play has allowed me to pick up on things he has been doing well.”
For Collins, the most important aspect a player needs is a strong mind.
“Baseball is a game where, one day, you can love it, and the next day you can hate it,” he elaborated.
One moment that Collins did love this year was his first collegiate hit, which happened to be a home run. He talked about how his pitch recognition has improved since starting the collegiate game, and how that helped him with this accomplishment.
“I knew he was trying to work me on the inside part of the plate, so I said if he was going to throw me an inside fastball, I was going to turn on it,” Collins described. “He threw me the ball where he thought it was, and I made good contact. As I was trotting around the bases, it was a really good feeling.”
Collins would love to keep playing baseball after college.
“I would love to play at the professional level. You never want your career to end,” Collins stated.
However, if baseball isn’t on the table, he wants to use his Hotel School experience to work in marketing. Being part of the team has taught him the value of working together with people, and as a Hotelie, Collins hopes he can use that degree to find an environment all about working together with others.