CHESAPEAKE — When Alaina Collins was of a younger age, the aspiring golfer used to go outside with her father, Craig and her grandfather, Joe, to hit golf balls in the Ohio River.
To simply spend time with her family and learn the game of golf.
Since that time, Collins’ goal — from a game perspective — has become much smaller as instead of a river, she’s trying to put a golf ball into a hole.
However, her goals as an individual have only grown on a day-by-day basis.
The 4.0 student and Chesapeake High School graduate signed with Dave Hopkins’ women’s golf program at Shawnee State — making it three generations of Collins’ who have played sports at the collegiate level.
“It means so much to me,” Collins said of the opportunity to play college golf. “I’m so excited to continue a tradition in my family, and play college golf. My grandfather and father first introduced me to golf. They both played college sports, and I’m so excited to do the same.”
In each of her four seasons for the Lady Panthers, Collins excelled, putting her practice to good use by finishing inside the top-25 in all four years that she participated in a Division II Southeast District sectional tournament.
Collins, who finished 20th (109), 22nd (98), and 22nd (115) from her freshman through junior seasons, improved her position dramatically as a senior — finishing in a tie for sixth overall with her score of 96.
That mark allowed Collins to qualify for her first-ever Division II Southeast District Tournament as an individual, where she ended up finishing 14th overall by matching her stroke from sectional competition.
“It was truly an awesome experience,” Collins said. “I was the only girl on the golf team for four years. I had the best teammates and made friends that will last a lifetime. (Terry) Kimball was my coach in all six years that I played at Chesapeake. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more supportive coach. I will miss playing at Chesapeake for sure.”
With Hopkins — a familiar face around the Ohio Valley Conference — watching Collins blossom into the talented golfer that she presently stands at, it didn’t take long for Shawnee State to come calling.
It also didn’t take long for her to lock in on SSU as her ultimate destination, as Collins never seriously considered another college program despite obtaining interest from multiple locations — simply because of her rapport with Hopkins and her ability to connect with the campus.
“When I first met Coach (Dave) Hopkins, he was very supportive and understanding,” Collins said. “I could tell that he deeply cared for his players and wanted them to succeed. This meant a lot to me. When I went to visit campus, everyone was so welcoming and nice. I knew that Shawnee State was the perfect place for me to further my academics. Being able to play golf for SSU was the cherry on top.”
In addition to having the opportunity to play golf at Shawnee State and pursue a future career in occupational therapy, Collins will also get to play alongside a good friend.
Fairland’s Addi Speed, who has also signed with the SSU women’s golf program, will start her career this coming fall alongside Collins.
The two already plan to room together upon arriving on campus.
“That’s so exciting,” Collins said. “Addi is a close friend of mine. We are planning on becoming roommates at SSU. I can’t wait to start this upcoming season with Addi.”
With her college career set to begin in short order, Collins is set to make her college career as good as the one she experienced in high school.
Considering that Collins was a member of the National Honor Society, the Beta Club and the Spanish Club at Chesapeake; served as its class secretary on student council in each of her academic years and served as its volunteer at St. Mary’s as well as with the Special Olympics, it’s clear that Shawnee State got a gem not only in ability, but in character as well.
“I hope to make new friends and engage in new opportunities,” Collins said. “This includes having fun with the golf program and working toward becoming an occupational therapist.”
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