Former Vaq to join GCC greats in Hall of Fame

Somewhere in a storage locker in Montrose lie the MVP trophies she won.

Tucked next to the awards are the other accolades, from her days at Glendale High to her excellence at Glendale Community College, and to her memorable performances at Cal State Northridge.

It's not a part of Angela Brinton-Collins' nature to boast about those awards.

That's why she's hesitant to talk about her numerous accolades, which range from being a two-time All-American in women's volleyball at Northridge, to winning the 1988 Honda Award for being the best athlete in Division II to leading the Matadors to the 1988 National Championships.

The Montrose resident will be bestowed another honor tonight, when she'll be inducted into the Glendale Community College Athletic Hall of Fame.

She'll be singled out for her play as a Vaquero and Matador, but she'll also let others know something else that speaks volumes about her character.

"It wasn't just me," Brinton-Collins says. "It was my team."

For one year at Glendale College and two years at Northridge, she was a leader of a team that stood out.

She played three years at Northridge, but she spent most of her first year sitting on the bench, playing behind former Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy volleyball Coach Shelli Orlandini.

"Sitting on the bench made me realize that I didn't want to sit on the bench anymore," Brinton-Collins says.

Once Orlandini graduated, Brinton-Collins asked Northridge Coach Walt Ker what she needed to do to make the Matadors her team.

Ker told her she didn't have to change her game. She had to lead.

"I had to show the coaches that I believed that it was my team," Brinton-Collins says.

She was more than a setter. She was a psychologist, a motivator and an encourager on a team that lost in the Division II championship a year before.

She took responsibility for errors; reassured teammates that she was setting them again even after a mistake and led by example.

"She always led with a confident attitude," says Karen Langston, an outside hitter and defensive specialist who played two years with Brinton-Collins. "She never intimidated or excluded people. She was always very positive. She walked the walk."

For all of her team's success during the season, Brinton-Collins was left "devastated" at the end of it.

For the second consecutive year, Northridge lost in the championship match, falling to a UC Riverside squad that it had defeated twice during the season.

"I was angry," Brinton-Collins says. "I felt like I faulted the team. It motivated me for the next year. It pushed me to play the best I could play every time I went on the court."

She wasn't interested in accolades, even though she was named the Division II Player of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Assn. and was selected as the most valuable player of the California Collegiate Athletic Assn.

Her goal was to simply win the national championship.

"There was somewhat of a need to prove myself," Brinton-Collins says. "If I won all those awards, none of them would've been worth it if we didn't win it."

Her dream was fulfilled on an epic night when Northridge defeated Central Missouri State, 15-4, 16-14, 12-15, 12-15, 16-14 in the championship match in front of an estimated crowd of 1,200 at the University of Omaha-Nebraska.

"I'm proud of that win, but I'm more proud of the women I played with," Brinton-Collins says. "I know I played on a team. It doesn't matter if I set the ball if there was no one there to hit it."

Five years after the national championship, she was inducted into the Northridge Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility.

Ten years later, she took up golf for the first time.

"What drew me to golf was I never played an individual sport," she says. "But when I first started playing, I looked around and thought, where's my team?

"But of all the things I play in with golf, team play is my favorite."

To no surprise, she excelled, playing to prove that she was the best person on the course each time she stepped to the tees. She won the 2007 and 2008 Oakmont Country Club Women's Club Championship and is the two-time defending champion in the Brookside Golf Club Tournament.

And where are those championship trophies?

In her home, in the closet.

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