Utes senior forward David Collette’s back tightening up against Saint Mary’s might be the thing he remembers least from the past week.
The Murray native had been anticipating becoming a father for about a week, and on the verge of leaving with his Utah teammates to play in the semifinals of the NIT, Collette and his wife McElle welcomed their first child into the world. Rowan William Collette, a 8-pound, 13-ounce-pound baby boy, arrived around 1:30 p.m. Friday afternoon.
Collette, who wasn’t able to play in the second half of Wednesday night’s quarterfinal overtime win at Saint Mary’s due to back tightness, spoke to reporters while using a foam roller to loosen up prior to Saturday’s practice. He said both the newborn baby and new mother were doing well. Of course, that won’t make it easier to go on the road.
Collette admitted he’s had anxious moments thinking about leaving his newly expanded family behind as he finishes the season with the Utes, but he believes the experience will “be something we always remember. It’s hard in the moment, but once we’re done we’ll look back on it and have some good memories.”
The Utes flew to New York on Saturday afternoon.
“She knew it was going to happen,” Collette said, referring to his wife. “It’s one thing to talk about it, but once it actually happens it’s a little harder. We’ve both got family close, and she’ll have plenty of help so I’m not worried.”
Utes coach Larry Krystkowiak joked he was “bummed” the Collettes didn’t name their son after him. Krystkowiak, a father of five, said he had a conversation with Collette about becoming a dad.
“I can remember when my oldest, our 18-year-old, was born like it was yesterday,” Krystkowiak said. “The old saying that the days seem to drag on forever but the years fly by, I think that’s probably fitting. And it’s work. Everybody that has kids knows that it’s the greatest thing that can happen, but it’s also not easy. He’ll be ready, getting his feet wet. We’re all just happy that the baby is healthy and mom is healthy and everything went as planned. The timing seems to be pretty good.”
The Utes traveled to Moraga, Calif., and played top-seeded Saint Mary’s in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night on a short turnaround after playing Monday night, but their hosts didn’t reserve a block of hotel rooms. Instead, the Utes stayed in an Airbnb.
While cozy, it wasn’t as though all the players were crowded into a single room with bunk beds. Senior point guard Justin Bibbins described the home as a mansion.
“It was like two to a room,” Bibbins said. “Some people slept on the floor. Some people slept on couches, but it was fun. It was a great bonding experience because in a hotel you kind of get separated in rooms. We [were] all together, and it was really fun for us.”