SCOTIA — Kelsey Collins is moving up at Mekeel Christian Academy.
The Lions’ former junior varsity boys’ basketball coach will be directing the school’s varsity girls’ team that reached the state Class C semifinals last winter, Mekeel athletic director Dan Decker announced Sunday.
Collins’ first coaching assignment was with the Mekeel modified boys’ basketball team in the 2009-10 season when he was a student at The College of Saint Rose.
“It’s going to be a little different, but I’ve got three daughters,” said Collins, who, with his wife Porsha, has 4-year-old Kiara, 3-year-old Kyrie and 1-year-old Kiana. “I’m ready for the challenge.”
Away from school, the 27-year-old Mekeel graduate works with at-risk girls and boys on a daily basis as the Schenectady County director for Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
“You have to make adjustments,” Collins said of working with the girls. “They’re human. They have feelings. They have good days and they have bad days. I work with kids every day. I think I’m well prepared for this.”
Mekeel Head of School and varsity boys’ basketball coach Chad Bowman believes Collins is ready, too.
“I’ve known Kelsey for such a long time, and I’m excited for him,” Bowman said. “He has a great demeanor with kids. He’s very calm. He’s an encourager. He has the qualities we’re looking for.
“He’s going to be a good role model for the students, both girls and boys.”
Collins is taking over for Guy DeAngelis, who led the varsity girls’ basketball team for three seasons. Before the new school year began, DeAngelis took a job with computer company Dell in Dallas.
“I was up at Guy’s house and he told me he was moving to Texas,” Collins said. “He asked me if I wanted to coach the girls. At first, I thought he was joking, but he was serious. He thought I would be a good fit.”
Mekeel will have just about its entire roster coming back, including all-state selections Liz Singleton (third team) and Rebekkah Dean (fourth team). The Lions won 24 straight games before losing in the state final four semifinals, and went 24-2 overall.
“They were very good last year. Guy did a great job with them,” Collins said. “People think we’re going to be a top-notch team again, so I’m feeling a little pressure. I’ve got big shoes to fill.”
In his only season with the Mekeel JV boys, Collins led them to a 15-5 record.
“Everyone was impressed with how he handled the duties as JV coach,” said Decker, who recently took over as Mekeel’s athletic director, which was another position previously held by DeAngelis.
“I’m ready for it,” Collins said. “I’ve been around hoop for a long time. I had Chad Bowman as a coach for a long time. I’ve been around a lot of good basketball minds.”
Collins was the starting point guard on Bowman’s 2006-07 team that posted a 25-2 record, won Mekeel’s (then Schenectady Christian School) only Section II boys’ basketball championship and advanced to the state Class C semifinals.
“He’s coached a lot of games already because point guards, they are coaches on the floor,” Bowman said. “There’s something about point guards and the way they translate the game. It’s a natural fit.”
Collins set a school record with 503 career assists, and as a senior was named the Western Athletic Conference Southern Division co-most valuable player and made the all-state sixth team.
“I’m big on defense, rebounding and sharing the ball,” Collins said.
DeAngelis coached varsity baseball at Mekeel as well as varsity girls’ basketball, and Decker said the baseball position has yet to be filled.