Oilton High recently welcomed a new addition to its athletic program.

Jason Collins was hired last week as head coach of the OHS girls basketball and softball squads. Collins — who will be entering his first year as a head coach — will replace Jon Peveler, who led the Lady Panthers to a 22-6 finish on the court this season including a 14-0 mark in conference play.

“I think (Collins) will be really good for our program,” said OHS athletic director and boys basketball coach Earl Madison. “I like his energy and enthusiasm — he’s just excited about doing things right. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

Collins spent this season as a graduate assistant for the boys team at East Central University in Ada. He also served as an assistant girls coach at Stonewall High the year before.

“I’ve really been wanting to take a head coaching job,” Collins said. “I know the (OHS) girls basketball program is already pretty good. (Oilton’s) softball program is not as strong but hopefully I’ll be able to fix that.”

Prior to coaching at ECU, Collins competed in basketball for a year-and-a-half at Murray State College in Tishomingo. He averaged 10 points and eight rebounds per game, but his playing days came to a close after suffering a career-ending injury.

“I figured that if I can’t play, I still want to stick around so I decided to go ahead and coach,” Collins said. “I’m sure I’ll learn a lot during this first year.

“You have a lot more responsibilites as a head coach, but I’m looking forward to getting to know all my players and helping them adjust to the new system.”

With the help of 6-foot-3 center Andrea Coggin, the Lady Panthers captured the Cimarron Valley Conference title this season before falling to Cashion in the Class A Area Tournament. Coggin, OHS’s leading scorer and rebounder, graduated in May but Collins still has high hopes for the program.

“My expectations for the basketball team are going to be pretty high,” Collins added. “I was surprised that Oilton didn’t make it to the state tournament (this year), but we’re going to try to change that next year.”

As far as softball goes, Collins has not had much coaching experience other than working as an assistant for Stonewall’s club. However, he said he is ready for the challenge and hopes to get the Lady Panthers back on track.

“I just want (OHS softball) to really improve this first year,” Collins said. “I don’t know much about pitching in softball, but as far as the basics go, I can take care of that.

“It’ll be a challenge ... Oilton has fast-pitch softball, then it goes straight into basketball, then you jump right into slow-pitch softball. It’s a constant, year-round thing, but I think I’m ready for it.”

Though Collins has yet to prove himself as a head coach, Madison said he has no concerns regarding the ECU grad’s ability to lead Oilton in the right direction.

“The girls seem really excited about (Collins) coming in and I see no reason why he can’t keep things going for us,” Madison added. “He’s been around basketball for a long time and I know he has worked with some good coaches. He’s seen what it takes to have a winning program.”

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