Jenny Rollins was arguably one of the best players to come through Central High’s girls basketball program, as she tabulated more than 1,500 points in a stellar high school career at the Corinth school.
She took that success to Husson University in Bangor, where Rollins was a top offensive weapon for coach Kissy Walker.
Now, Rollins has returned to her roots, as she joined the coaching staff of her mother, Diane Rollins, as an assistant this winter.
Rollins is finishing up her studies at Husson as her basketball eligibility expired after last season.
“She brings a lot of knowledge from playing in college and being successful in high school here, too,” Diane Rollins said after practice on Monday.
“The girls know who she is or know who she was in high school and they really look up to her and listen to her very well.”
Jenny Rollins, a Bangor Daily News All-Maine third-teamer as a junior in 2004, knew she wanted to trade in her high-tops for a clipboard once her playing days at Husson were complete.
“I still wanted to be involved with the sport,” she said. “I love the sport, I still love Central, I want to be involved with this. I love spending time with the girls and my mother.”
Rollins joined junior varsity coach Frank Reynolds on her mother’s staff, and Diane Rollins knows Jenny’s knowledge and passion for the game are the most vital things she brings to the Red Devils.
“What I like most is her honesty. I look to her sometimes when something isn’t working, and she’s going to tell me right up front if it isn’t working,” Diane Rollins said.
An example of that occurred during Friday’s Class C victory over George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, in which the Devils brought in 6-foot-4 center Bekah Campbell off the bench in the second half and started with a smaller lineup in an attempt to establish an up-tempo game and still have Campbell’s vital presence under the basket.
Central wound up outscoring GSA 36-14 over the final 16 minutes of that contest, thanks to the play of dynamic guard Hannah Pray, who scored 19 points during that span.
“That turned it around, that was something we had talked about,” Diane Rollins said.
With the age difference between Jenny Rollins and the girls on the team being somewhat low, its easy for her to relate to her players.
“They can talk about different things like music. I’m not into the girls’ music,” said Diane Rollins.
Jenny is taking the lessons she learned from her mom at Central and from Walker at Husson and passing them along to the 2009-10 edition of the Red Devils.
“I think from Central, I’ve learned that it’s about being good teammates and it starts from there no matter what you do on the court,” said Jenny Rollins. “It’s always about being a good teammate and being friends first before you win a game.
“Kissy taught us about being good teammates, too. She was good with teaching us different rules on the team and what our roles were.”
The Rollins’ coaching tandem has mentored Central to a 6-0 start heading after Tuesday’s 52-29 victory over Piscataquis Community of Guilford. And while Jenny Rollins played on some successful teams in her days at Central, she’s exuberant that this team is already tasting success.
“It feels great to be around a team that has worked so hard to get to where they are,” she said. “They work in the offseason, they work all year round to be where they are, they listen well to coach Rollins and they should be successful with all they do.”
It’s also helpful to have a coach like Jenny Rollins who was an offensive force in high school and college that Central’s players can look toward if they struggle offensively.
“They go to her sometimes just about shooting, because Jenny was a great shooter who scored over 1,500 points here,” Diane Rollins said.
Perhaps the most important thing about this coaching relationship is that Jenny and Diane are friends first.
“We mesh really well, I know we’re mother-daughter but we’re friends and we know what we want,” Jenny said. “You’ve got to trust each other to make the right decisions for the team.”
It’s working so far, as Central is second in the Class C Heal Points.