Collin Willsey’s success on the rugby pitch led to a transformative experience for his self-esteem. Prior to playing rugby, he describes his mindset as only focusing on his shortcomings and a pessimistic attitude. The camaraderie of rugby changed his mindset, and the way he viewed himself and his achievements. He calls the game his greatest passion in life.
Collin was a member of the Chicago Blaze Rugby Academy for both the fall and spring seasons. Prior to joining the Chicago Blaze, he was also a member of Twin City Tornados, participating in multiple tournaments like the Midwest All-Star Tournament, Corn Bowl, Cody Cup, South Regional Cup Tournament, and the Midwest Regional Cup Tournament. With the Tornados, Collin had the opportunity to participate in a training session with the New Zealand All Blacks on one of their recent visits to Chicago. He also played with the Eagle Impact Rugby Academy on multiples occasions throughout 2017-2019.
“He is a class act in the way that he carries himself at the club and sets an example for others to follow. He is very motivated to succeed not only in the present, but in the future as well, both on and off the field,” said Ryan D. Stoddard, Chicago Blaze Rugby Academy and Rugby Illinois Tornados coach.
Willsey was a graduate of Normal Community West High School in Normal, Illinois. He excelled in the classroom posting a 4.27 cumulative GPA. He was involved in multiple on campus and local organizations, including Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society, National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Outdoor Club, Scholastic Bowl, and the National Youth Leadership Forum for National Security. Collin founded the Science Club and successfully petitioned to have a Calculus 3 course made available at his school. He was also recognized as an Illinois State AP Scholar and awarded as a State Scholar by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. In addition, he actively participated in the United States Naval Sea Cadets Corps, earning multiple honors throughout his tenure.
He will continue to advance his academic and rugby career at the next level at Trinity College Dublin. He intends to study archeology and eventually pursue a Ph.D in the field one day. He describes himself as being passionate about history and observing the evolution of societies and would like to concentrate his studies on underwater archeology and sunken ruins.
Collin will work to achieve his rugby goals of making the first U20 XV as a freshman at Trinity College and hopefully advancing to the senior first XV soon after.
“Collin is a good kid, he works really hard and is a regular in the gym and field sessions. He is getting better every day. He is a slow burner,” said Tony Smeeth, Trinity College Rugby coach.
His most coveted dream is to be offered a spot on an academy team and work his way to playing in the Pro 14. He dreams of working diligently to be capped for the Eagles in the future and would be honored to represent the United States. While he admits that these goals may sound overly ambitious, he is eager to make them into a reality!