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About the book

Take me back to the days when mentoring was a well-respected craft and a highly sought after profession by young people. First-time author Robert Collins delivers a passionate, spell-binding account of his life as an athletics coach and mentor spanning more than two decades of his life. His memoir is chock-full of delightful and compelling stories and experiences both on and off the playing field. Collins paints vivid pictures of fond memories experienced as well as painful and insightful lessons learned and shared with the young people under his tutelage. His story-telling skills are immeasurably captivating and will keep the reader, even those of us without knowledge of athletics, engaged until the very end! A must read for anyone seeking strategies, skills and inspiration for how to win in life!

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About the author

  Robert Crook Collins is passionate about two things: his family and mentoring young people to do and be their very best.
  Rigorous athletics and a solid education carried Robert from being just another kid growing up on the south side of Chicago, to teacher, coach, Division I Athletics Director and now author. Robert has felt the realization of his life’s assignment through the many positive responses and experiences from the young people he encountered while mentoring.
  “God has given each of us many gifts, and a purpose and I’m so thankful for my assignment!”
  How Do You Spell Win? is Robert Collins’ memoir and the first book he’s authored. Robert is the proud parent of four adult-children: Bobby, Dori, Paige and Ria. In his leisure time, Robert enjoys a multitude of pastimes including daily workouts and pilates, golfing, cooking and serving others through church ministry.
This book is lovingly dedicated to the honor and memory of his parents, Charles and DeLois Collins.


As an African American male from the inner city of Chicago, it always felt good to know that I had someone who understood me and would help me to navigate my path. Mr. Collins  was a positive influence in that his general disposition was always professional, precise, yet warm and comforting. He often offered me reassurance, which boosted my self-confidence and helped me to consider what it meant to be a leader.  At times, when I was being taken advantage of and people were not being kind to me, Coach Collins came to my defence.  He modeled how young, black men  should conduct ourselves in public situations. He would most times wait with me while I got myself together after a game and before a press conference to ensure I didn’t feel rushed while I got suited up;  he and I shared the belief in making a great impression. For a time, I strongly considered pursuing a role in College Athletics; Coach Collins  made the job appear seamless.  I cannot count the times that he made himself available to my family and I- ways  that far exceeded his role at NIU (wellness checks, funeral visits, etc..) Coach Collins was a  guiding light in my life and so many  others. I will always be forever grateful to him.

Garrett Wolfe

I am so elated to have an opportunity to speak about a man that I truly respect.  This man, Robert Collins, changed my life in such a meaningful way.

As our friendship developed during our teaching together, he asked me if I would consider coaching the girl’s basketball team at Beasley Academic Center where we both taught. I immediately responded by saying I don’t know anything about coaching. He insisted that he could teach me everything that I needed to know to be a successful coach.  After coaching the girls at Beasley for a year, upon Robert’s suggestion, I applied for the coaching position at Robeson High School where he coached the boys. Initially, I didn’t get the position, but a year later, I applied again and was hired! After being mentored by Mr. Collins, I developed into a coach to be reckoned with; Robert helped me develop into a Hall of Fame Coach. He was an excellent teacher and I was a motivated learner.   Robert wasn’t aware of this, but I was going through a lot in my life when I met him. Coaching gave my life purpose and created a new future for me- one that I would not have realized had it not been for Mr. Collins. I will forever be grateful to Mr. Robert Collins, my friend and mentor for life.

Gloria Reeves

The first time I met Coach Collins was under a series of very uncomfortable circumstances.  Someone very close to me had recently passed away and I was also feeling the weight of the notoriety of being a high school basketball star. To compound matters, I was to be the starting Forward for the Robeson Raiders, however, Coach Collins had the grim task of telling me I was to be sidelined until my grades improved. When he informed me that I was unable to play, I literally hated his guts (I shared this statement of fact with him many years later). At some point, I realized he was trying to support me and not humiliate me. That realization gained my respect for him.

I have grown to love and respect Coach Collins, and I share that with him each time we communicate. Coach Collins taught me to be a man! He modeled for me a healthy image of what it meant to be a man.  I was reluctant to change, but he gently pulled me in and showed me the way. Plain and simple, I never would have made it without Coach Collins.

Alfrederick Hughes

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