End of an era for Bulldog Basketball

Coach Celester Collier retires after 31 years coaching at Bowie


Peter Dang

AN ARTIST AT WORK: Coach Collier coaches Bowie to a win against St. Andrews Episcopal School in 2019. Collier was a very vocal coach on the sidelines with his players, leading them to many wins over the years.

Sam Vane, Sports Editor

CC. When people hear those two letters, CC, they usually think of closed captions, or carbon copy on an email, but in central Texas, CC means something else. It means Celester Collier.

Collier has changed many lives of his players, one of these is sophomore forward Braeden Spinden.

“Coach Collier always expects a lot out of his players so you always had to give it your all,” Spinden said. “He definitely has made me a better person off and on the court because I always have to make sure I am on top of my grades and I have been working a lot harder on the court.”

Collier has been coaching Bowie for a long time, 31 years to be exact. During this time he’s really figured out how to get the most out of his players.

“I think players have to know that you care about them and that they know that you care about them,” Collier said. “You can get a lot out of your players.”

Spinden can affirm this claim as Collier is always there for his players.

“Anytime someone on the team is sick, coach is always calling them and checking in on them to make sure they are ok,” Spinden said.

Collier, who has over 800 wins is one of the best in the business and knows how to win and connect with players like Spinden.

“You know what’s important is building relationships with students and kids,” Collier said. “The reason why I have that many wins is because I’ve had good students and I’ve had good players, and you know, I got a lot of wins, but it’s because I’ve had good players.”

Coaching has always been apart of Collier’s life as while at Texas State he was the youngest NCAA Division 1 basketball coach.

“I became the head coach. I was the youngest Division 1 head coach in the country at the time: was I ready for that position? No. Was it a great learning experience for me? Yes,” Collier said. “And it’s hard to turn down when they offer you that position, but I learned a lot and it kind of helped mold me and shaped me and humbled me at the same time.”

Many would think the college basketball scene would be completely different than high school, but this isn’t the case according to Collier.

“Basketball is basketball, it wasn’t that big of a difference. The difference is in recruiting. You got to travel all over the country and find players and you got to convince players to come to your school,” Collier said. “And so that’s the big difference. But basketball is basketball.”

Collier isn’t just an outstanding coach as he is in two ring of honors, Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) and Parish Junior College.

“What a great honor, to  have your alma mater recognize you as an outstanding student athlete and player of that college and university,” Collier said. “I was just excited about that opportunity knowing that a lot of the hard work that I put in when I was there, somebody recognized it and it was a blessing because at Southwest Texas State my college coach is the one that introduced me and inducted me into the Hall of Honor at Southwest Texas.”

His induction in Parish Junior College’s ring of honor was very important as Collier’s coach had passed away before his induction.

“When I was at Parish, the Dean of Students who I knew very well inducted me into that Hall of Honor because my college coach at the time had passed away,” Collier said.  “So it was kind of bittersweet. But his wife was there and she received his honor. So yeah, that was a blessing.”

Collier isn’t the only great coach at Bowie as assistant coach Howard Thompson also has what it takes to be a great coach.

“Maybe we might not make the playoffs but you just to see improvement; you see productivity from our work, or what we have done, you know as coaches you want to instill character in an athlete, but you want to instill the mindset of trying to get better, and then accepting what the results are,” Thompson said. “And hopefully the results are positive and productive and sometimes, you know, reaching that high standard goal, you know, you might not reach it, but there are some goals that you did reach that are satisfying, not only to that athlete, but also the coaches also.” 

Thompson and Collier go way back as both used to play sports in the Lone Star conference.

“We both were in the Lone Star conference back in the day: I played football for Howard Payne and he played basketball for Southwest Texas in the same conference,” Thompson said. “So he had a lot of friends that were my friends from my hometown and they were talking about me, so he came to football games to watch me play, and when he came to Howard Payne University to play basketball where I was I’d watched him play; we really didn’t know of each other, but just about each other.”

Thompson and Collier are both African-American and because of the lack of minority coaches both are role models in the community.

“I think it comes with maturity and age; I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve had some success, I’ve always been taught that if you work hard and you put in the effort, you do it the right way, that’s what I try to tell young coaches,” Collier said. “Make sure that you’re doing things the right way, make sure you always put the students and your players first and if you do that, then everything else will fall in place.”

Collier is no different than everyone else, as he also had many role models who helped him get to where he is today.

“I had good parents, my parents were my role model, my mom and my dad always taught me to treat people the way I wanted to be treated and I had great upbringing and so I owe a lot of that to my parents,” Collier said. “And when I got older and started playing high school sports, I had really good coaches: My high school coach was a great role model for me and he was the one that got me interested in and maybe becoming a coach, so I was blessed.”

Thompson, who has been coaching longer than Collier at Bowie has always cherished his time with Collier.

“I was honored that he chose me to be his JV coach because to be honest with you before he came I was a freshman basketball coach, but then when he said, Coach, I want to move you up to be my JV coach, and we’ll get a freshman coach,” Thompson said.

Because of Collier’s long tenure as head coach, he’s had a few moments that stand above the rest like leading Bowie to the regional tournament.

“I guess to name a few is when we played over at Burger center several years ago, against Lake Travis to see who would go to regionals and Lake Travis had beat us twice during district that year,” Collier said. “And it was a packed gym over at Burger center and we ended up beating Lake Travis to go to a regional tournament.”

Collier isn’t alone in sharing great moments as Spinden has already created long lasting memories with the team.

“My favorite moments are either our really in depth post-game conversations, or going out to eat as a team, I will always remember them” Spinden said.