Tell Katie Collignon she talks too fast, and she'll contend you listen too slowly. It's not a diss. Simply, it's the pace at which she operates.
As Marquette Catholic High School's administrative transition approaches the checkered flag, the 7,000-RPM Collignon has needed every ounce of energy in her five-foot, two-inch frame to fuel her enhanced role. Beginning January 4th, she'll officially add vice principal to her business card above director of athletics and head girls basketball coach.
"To this point, I've had the opportunity to work with student-athletes at all different levels. I'm now grateful for the ability to impact the entire student body, staff, and community here," Collignon said.
A jill-of-all-trades, Collignon has worked in a variety of roles in her young professional career. Immediately following her graduation from Ferris State University, she accepted a job in the accounting department at Michigan Fuels in suburban Detroit. A brisk tempo often resulted in her to-do lists checked off by 10:30 am.
"I turned my job into a competition to see how quickly and efficiently I could get my work done for the day. Many of my afternoons were spent planning the construction of a new faculty workout center," she cracked.
Much to her chagrin, an in-office gym remained but a pipe dream. The powers-that-be were much more consumed with the purchase price of crude oil than dumbbells.
After eight months of cubicle life, Collignon needed a new challenge. So she upped and moved to New Jersey where she began working for Tilton Fitness. Less than a year after signing on, she was promoted to general manager.
Tilton Fitness - and the East Coast - were a fluid fit. Collignon, who averaged 16,469 steps per day this past November, was stimulated physically, mentally, and professionally. Her innate ability to motivate and inspire - a characteristic that would eventually serve Marquette student-athletes - produced a well from which Garden Staters thrived.
Though relatively new to Jersey, she could envision her career there in terms of years not months. That is until she received a phone call that changed the course of her life.
Collignon had just finished training Sam Young, Tilton's CEO at the time, when she noticed a missed call. Tracey Dorow, her former coach at Ferris State, had been hired as the head women's basketball coach at Valparaiso University. She wanted Collignon on her coaching staff.
Believe it or not, the decision wasn't a slam dunk for Collignon. She loved the life she was leading some 800 miles east, but how often does one get the opportunity to be a Division I coach, with no prior coaching experience mind you?
Collignon ultimately accepted the offer.
The risk proved to be worth the reward for Dorow. Offensive philosophies and defensive schemes comprise but a fraction of coaching. Relationship building is the lifeblood of recruiting and Collignon was a natural. The younger players saw her as not only a coach, but a mentor. Her voice extended beyond the court as she was installed as the program's strength and conditioning coordinator.
After four years on the sidelines with the Crusaders, Collignon was tipped off to the opening at Marquette. She admired both the forward-thinking direction of the school and the college-like campus. The feeling was mutual and she embarked on her tenure here in June of 2016.
In the athletic office, she restored stability. On the basketball court, she marshaled a fully-loaded squad to state titles in 2018 and 2019.
Looking ahead, her vivace pace complements well with the calm and calculated Casey Martin. Martin officially assumes his post as principal on January 4th.
"I'm confident we can bring Marquette to new heights. We have a strong, tight-knit culture backed by tremendous support from the Catholic Diocese of Gary. It's really the complete package," Collignon said.