Kristina Collymore Happy with Bucknell Decision
Jan. 4, 2006
By Todd Merriett, Bucknell Athletic Communications
Brown, Bucknell, Columbia and Penn. Bucknell? The school of 3,400 students in central Pennsylvania is not usually mentioned in the same breath with those Ivy League academic powerhouses, but to Kristina Collymore it is every bit as good. A sophomore guard on the Bison women's basketball team, Collymore needed to skip a day of classes her senior year of high school to make the choice, and after agonizing over it, decided to attend Bucknell instead of those other prestigious institutions.
Collymore first heard of Bucknell through a mailing and proceeded to learn more when conducting research on the internet. She liked the fact Bucknell was a small school with great professors and decided to drive the two-and-one-half hours west from her hometown of Montclair, N.J., just over 30 minutes from New York City, to quaint Lewisburg, Pa. After the visit, which made a positive impression on both Collymore and her mother, Umbalito, the choice was narrowed to Columbia and Bucknell, but the school in the heart of New York was shortly eliminated from contention on advice from Collymore's cousin, then a student at Columbia.
"Academics, distance, athletics and friends were the deciding factors for me. The first thing I looked at was academics since I could have played at any place on my list, but distance was also a factor because I didn't want my mom to miss me," says Collymore with a laugh before she explains she really misses her mom. "Two-and-one-half hours is not that bad, but if Bucknell was closer to home it would be even better.
"I am happy with my decision," exclaims Collymore when asked if all the research and debating was worth it.
Despite missing her mother, who played basketball in high school, Collymore is able to see her often. She travels to a number of games every year, and thanks to her daughter living in a single, is able to stay and visit afterward.
"I love it when my mom is here," explains Collymore with the ever-present smile gracing her face. "She loves to watch me play and gives me advice. After the game she also gives me someone else to talk to other than my teammates and coaches."
With the close-knit nature of this year's Bison team, Collymore may not have many words left when she sees her mom. Much louder than last year, the team has already been asked to quiet down while eating at restaurants a number of times. The cast of five newcomers has integrated seamlessly with the six veterans on the youthful squad that features no seniors and just two juniors.
"I can't even tell they are freshmen," exclaims Collymore about the adjustment of the newcomers. "We get along from top to bottom and it is great."
On the court, the tiny Collymore, who is listed at 5-5, is all about the success of the team. After averaging 5.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while coming off the bench to spell starter Lindsey Geosits as a freshman, Collymore has stepped into the starting role this year. Through seven games her numbers dipped to 3.1 points, 1.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists as she split time with freshman Amanda Brown to form a potent duo with opposite strengths. Collymore, who has 41 career steals, is an intense defender who likes to pester opposing ball handlers, while Brown is an offensive threat who owned a scoring average of 7.7 points per game and had taken the third-most fields goals on the team through seven games.
"I think it is great Amanda can come in and score for us," says Collymore. "I feel like I can score when I need to, but now I can be a leader on the court and make sure everybody is on the same page. Having Amanda on the team is great. Some games I might play less than her, but if we win, it is okay because our goal is to win a championship."
As a sophomore who has appeared in more than 35 career games, Collymore embraces her role as a leader. She has the big picture in mind - to win Bucknell's first Patriot League title since 2002.
"A lot of people look at me when I am on the bench and I try to stay up and positive," explains Collymore. "If I am not cheering the team on, then the bench tends to be a little quiet, so I like to take on the role of cheerleader.
"However, everybody on this team is a leader. We want to be positive all the time. We love coming to practice, and the veterans want to show the freshmen that practice is not bad and not being able to go home for a long time over Christmas break is not that bad because we are all aiming for the championship."
Looking up to the diminutive Collymore as a leader is the only way her teammates will ever look up to her since she is often the smallest player on the court. However, she embraces her lack of height and relishes the advantages it gives her.
"I think being small gives me an advantage," smiles Collymore. "Defensively I am quicker because of my size and I can sneak in and get rebounds without being noticed. Also, when I drive to the basket among the trees I can squeeze in there due to my size."
With academics the driving force behind Collymore's choice to attend Bucknell, she is focusing on her studies along with the daily basketball practices and 6 a.m. weight workouts. Currently an undeclared major, she is hoping to have a double major in psychology and economics in the spring. By majoring in psychology, she will follow in her mother's footsteps. Her mother studied psychology and used to be a counselor at Rutgers University. Collymore hopes to be a sports psychologist, but that is subject to change with five more semesters of classes still ahead of her at the Patriot League institution she chose over the renowned Ivy League colleges.