Leaving his mark
Mike Kollien still remembers shoveling off a clear path in his front yard as a kid so he could shoot hoops, even in the winter as snow and sleet poured down around him.
“I’d shoot the basketball no matter what the weather was,” Kollien said.
That dedication to basketball from an early age served Kollien well and allowed him to leave his mark everywhere he stepped onto a basketball court.
He starred at Alpena High School, finishing his career as the third all-time leading scorer. From there he played at Alpena Community College and then at Concordia University.
All of the hard work and effort Kollien spent making himself a better basketball player have earned him a spot in the 2012 Class of the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame. He’ll be honored along with Andy Rohn, Dick Behning and John Geddert on May 4 at the APlex.
“It’s truly a great honor. When you look back at history, Alpena has a strong athletic history and just to be mentioned (with them), I’m honored. I’m real proud,” Kollien said.
Kollien started playing basketball in elementary school and several years later he found himself starting as a center and forward on the Alpena High basketball team, becoming an all-around threat for the Wildcats. In his senior season, Kollien hit a buzzer-beaten to send Alpena past tenth-ranked Traverse City. During his high school career, Kollien was named team MVP three times and was named to the All-Alpena News team three times, twice as a first team selection.
The stat that stands out most in Kollien’s time with the Wildcats however is his 945 career points, a total which still ranks third all-time.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s a great accomplishment. It’s been over 20 years and to think of all the great ball players (that have played) and it’s still there, it’s a testament to longevity,” Kollien said.
From there Kollien went to ACC where he joined a talented group of players including his Alpena High teammate Tom Tarututa and current ACC women’s coach Bobby Allen.
Even with a talented roster, it didn’t take long for Kollien to make people take notice of his talents. In his ACC debut on Nov. 17, 1989, Kollien scored 30 points in a loss to Flint Jordan in the Thunder Bay Classic. The next night he dropped 36 points against Highland Park and was named to the all-tournament team.
It was the beginning of a stellar career in the Maroon and Gray for Kollien, who finished his ACC career with 891 points and formed a potent 1-2 punch with Allen in his freshman season as they both averaged around 20 points per game.
“He used to tell me, ‘Bobby, this is going to be real easy.’ Everybody started looking at him and I started getting my points,” Allen said laughing. “He knows his stuff. He was a great teammate and he deserves all the honors he gets.”
Kollien was chosen as team MVP as a sophomore and earned second team all-conference honors.
Long after the end of his career with the Lumberjacks, Kollien has maintained several ties with ACC. He is currently the Director of Admissions at the school and was coach of the women’s basketball team from 1993-2003.
“I really enjoyed my experience and time there,” Kollien said of his time as coach. “I really feel like I helped a lot of ladies reach their goals and dreams.”
Kollien hasn’t coached in several years, but he’s still an ardent supporter of Alpena athletics and has gotten the chance to watch his two children, Christina and Tyler, play with the Wildcats.
After playing two seasons at ACC, Kollien again peaked the interest of Concordia University, who had been interested in him in high school and he was offered a chance to play two more season.
Once again Kollien left his mark.
In his senior season he set a school record for field goal percentage, making 63 percent of his shots and finished among the top 10 nationwide in the category in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. He was also named team MVP and won both the Spirit and Hustle Award and College Male Athlete of the Year.
“They were in a rebuilding mode, the head coach was young and enthusiastic about trying to build a program,” Kollien said. “Concordia was the best fit for me. It was a smaller place to play ball and get an education.”
Kollien isn’t quite sure what he’ll say when it comes time to give his induction speech, but it’s a safe bet he’ll thank a number of people who helped him during his athletic career.
“I played with great teammates and I had great coaches that gave me opportunities,” Kollien said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.