Safety Collin Wilder will play in his 64th high school football game for Katy (Texas) in Saturday’s 6A-II state final against Lake Travis. That’s four 16-game seasons. He doesn’t worry about wear and tear on his body.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have the trainers I’ve had and coaches I’ve had to prepare me for the beating I’ve taken over the years,” he says.
Among the injuries he’s sustained are a fractured ankle, a separated shoulder and tendinitis in his hamstring — but, he says, no concussions.
“I do a lot of neck and shoulder exercises to withstand some hits I take and deliver throughout the season,” he says. His teammates “joke around with me saying I look weird doing neck exercises, but I’ve been doing it since I started playing football. So far, I’ve been blessed.”
Craig Wilder coached his son from youth leagues to junior high.
“We spent lots of time conditioning,” his father says, “because when it comes to playing outside in 100-degree weather in Texas, you need to be conditioned. When you’re not properly conditioned, you get lazy with your technique, and then that’s when you’re more likely to get a concussion or any other type of injury.”
Wilder, who started playing at 9, asked for visits to a nutritionist for his 13th birthday. “That’s when I realized I loved the game of football and wanted to play college football,” he says.
He is committed to Houston and says he’s ready to play college ball.
“I don’t play scared, but I play smart,” he says. “As long as I protect myself, have good technique and control what I can control, I’ll be fine. … Athletes are getting bigger and stronger and faster, but you can definitely control your technique when it comes to taking those blows and delivering those hits.”
Wilder knows some parents don’t let their kids play football. He believes they should.
“Mainly because I think it gives kids a perspective of how life is,” he says. “You’re going to win and you’re going to lose in football, just like in life.”
Contributing: Jimmy Isbell