Black History Month Banner Program Honoree: Samuel “Rip” James Collins
Samuel “Rip” James Collins was born in Quincy, Florida, in 1915 & educated in the public school system of Gadsden County, where he graduated from Stephens High School. Collins earned his “Coach Rip’’ nickname because of his ability as a baseball hitter & fielder. A football scholarship brought him to Daytona Beach where he matriculated at Bethune-Cookman College (now University) for 2 years. He then transferred to Clark in Atlanta. He was drafted into the U.S. Army. Upon being honorably discharged, Collins returned to Bethune Cookman & received a Bachelor’s Degree. He married his college sweetheart, Ollye Eichelberger. They had 3 children, Thaddeus, Sonya, and Samuel III, who died in 1997. After graduation, “Coach Rip’’ accepted a teaching position at Hutto High School in Bainbridge, Ga, which then led to Tivoli in DeFuniak Springs, where he started a football program. Tivoli’s athletic program thrived under his leadership. In one three-year period, Collins’ teams compiled a 25-3-1 record. “Rip” wanted to help his players secure the athletic scholarships that provided the ticket to higher education. His success at Tivoli led him back to Daytona’s Campbell High School where he was 1 of 2 teachers selected to integrate schools in Volusia Co. In the mid-1950s, “Rip” took a job at Campbell HS, Daytona Beach’s black high school in the era of segregation. He spent about a decade there before one of two black teachers at Mainland before the school’s legally mandated integration in 1969. His career there lasted 40 years, where he continued to send scores of athletes to colleges & universities, often transporting them at his own expense. He was inducted into The Florida Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 1985, & has been a member of other professional, social & civic organizations. He also has received numerous awards as a coach and educator & is a life member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Coach Collins lived to be 104 years old.