When Northwestern University hired 2013 Chris Collins as its men’s basketball coach, it expected results.
Collins, who played from 1992-96 for Duke and legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski, has many years of valuable coaching experience. After playing professional basketball in Finland for two seasons, he came back to the United States and spent time coaching as an assistant for the WNBA’s Detroit Shock.
Soon enough, Collins found his way back to the NCAA. He was an assistant at Seton Hall before returning to Duke to be an assistant under Krzyewski. He coached there from 2000-2013, when Northwestern came calling.
So far, it’s safe to say that Collins has delivered as the coach for Northwestern. The Wildcats advanced to their first-ever NCAA Tournament and won their first round game against Vanderbilt on March 17. They ended up losing to No. 1 Gonzaga on March 18, but the team completed the best season in program history.
Collins has been joined in the journey of bringing the Wildcats to prominence by his longtime wife, Kim.
Kim and Chris have been married for 15 years and reside in Chicago, Illinois. Surprisingly, Kim was never known for her knowledge or love of basketball — or sports in general.
Here’s what you need to know about Kim and Chris:
1. The Couple Have 2 Children
In the late 1990s, Chris took a train from New Jersey to New York when he worked at Seton Hall, the Chicago Tribune reported. He frequented an Irish bar in the Manhattan area and coincidentally, that’s where Kim occasionally tended bar. The two met there in 1999 and formed a relationship, which continued to grow.
Having a deep history in basketball and making a career out of it, Chris is usually immersed in the sport most hours of the day. So much so, that Kim told the Chicago Tribune in 2013 that the first word out of their kids’ mouths — beside “Mama and Dad” — was “ball.”
She added that while Chris is deeply invested in basketball, his most important priority is his family.
Usually, the wives of coaches sit across from the team’s bench, but Kim said in the Tribune article that she prefers to be as close to her husband and the Wildcats team as possible.
I have to be behind the bench. That’s where I sat at Duke, even when I was five months pregnant. It’s all I know. I don’t get to see him work except for games. I don’t do chair-backs. I’m a bench-warmer.
2. Kim Owns Her Own Photography Company
Ever since she was a child, Kim had an interest in fashion and drama. When she looked to start a career, she went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan with aspirations of having a career in the fashion industry.
Notable alumni from the school include Project Runway season two winner Chloe Dao, hip-hop artist and fashion designer Fonzworth Bentley and Francisco Costa, a designer for Calvin Klein.
After spending time at the school and marrying Chris, Kim started her own business venture, a photography company named Kim Collins Photography, based in Chicago.
She also has a photography shop on Etsy that boasts 532 sales and a five-star rating.
3. She Traveled With Her Husband to the Olympics
In the many years that krzyzewski has spent coaching professional players on Team USA, Chris has been at his side.
Even when he took the job at Northwestern, Chris remained on the coaching staff, and traveled with the national team internationally.
He told InsideNU.com in an interview about the exposure that being on the national level offers to the school:
I think it helps our program. Any time you get the national exposure and get our program’s name out there, especially a program that’s trying to build and establish ourselves and gain some respectability.
Coach K wrote about how Chris and his wife Kim got aboard a minibus to take the group to their respective homes — in Durham, North Carolina at the time. He talked about how appreciated he felt when Chris, his wife, and the other coaches on the team gave him congratulatory hugs upon exiting the bus in what he described as the proudest experience of his coaching career.
4. Her Father-In-Law Is a Former NBA Player & Coach
Basketball runs in the Collins family.
Chris’ father — Kim’s father-in-law — Doug is a former basketball player, coach and TV analyst. Doug was a guard that went to Illinois State University. He was the No. 1-overall selection in the 1973 NBA Draft to the Philadelphia 76ers.
On Halloween in 2014, the couples’ son Ryan dressed up like his grandpa Doug in his retro No. 20 76ers jersey.
As a coach, Doug spent time with the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Washington Wizards and finally the 76ers. After Doug’s coaching career was through, he went on to become an NBA analyst for ESPN.
Notably, Collins can be seen with many emotional expressions on his face during Northwestern games as he watches his son coach.
5. Kim Has a Twin Sister
Kim also has a twin sister named Jen.
Kim joked to The Chicago Tribune that her sister “got the athletic genes” instead of her. With not much interest in sports, Kim was involved in drama and fashion. The two siblings grew up in Long Island, New York.
When Kim and Chris first met in 1999, he took her on a series of awesome dates. Two of them included a New York Knicks playoff game and a New York Yankees World Series game. To many of their friends, Kim was reportedly known as “the girl who knew nothing about sports.”