COLUMBIA — The crowd was pretty sparse Friday night at Walton Stadium. That doesn't mean it was quiet, especially with the Collins family involved.
Missouri soccer's senior forward Kendra Collins energized the Tigers on the field, while her sister Michelle Collins cheered loudly from the stands.
There were many good reasons to cheer.
Kendra Collins performed her enthusiastic high-five routine and scored a goal during the Tigers' 4-0 win against the Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Cougars.
A former Missouri soccer player, Michelle Collins attends most of her sister's home games because she is a big fan of the game. But she's a bigger fan of her sister.
"I am just so proud of my little sister," Michelle Collins said. "She is like a bulb of energy."
That energy influenced the Tigers' performance.
Kendra Collins did not start, but that didn't keep her from injecting her teammates with a dose of enthusiasm before the game.
In an act that has become a tradition for Missouri before every home game, Kendra Collins stood right in front of her teammates who were lined up in two rows. The Tigers formed a tunnel and cheered to each other and to the crowd, minutes before the start of the game.
Then, as the names of Missouri's starting eleven were announced, Collins applauded energetically and cheered, urging her teammates to come close to her for a high-five before they went to the center of the field.
There was a different greeting for each member of the team. Jumping high-fives, handshakes, and chest bumps are part of Kendra Collins' arsenal.
Redshirt freshman goalkeeper McKenzie Sauerwein, performed a jumping chest bump with Kendra Collins. Upon hearing her name, senior midfielder Kelsey Blincow ran toward Kendra Collins, who is one of her best friends, and they jumped at the same time and put their hands together, laughing the whole time.
"It's always fun with Blincow," Kendra Collins said. "Her arms are so long and she doesn't feel like she can get a full extension, so I tell her to do a full extension."
But beyond the fun players get from Collins, the high-five routine serves as a pre-game confidence booster.
"Kendra really gets us pumped up before the game," sophomore midfielder Dominique Richardson said. "We don't just want to run out and be like, 'I'm starting.' So what she does is a great thing to get us going."
The Missouri players and coaching staff agree her enthusiastic personality is one of the team's assets.
"Kendra knows she can impact the group in many different ways," head coach Bryan Blitz said. "She does a fantastic job at giving a good example to the group, enjoying what she does and showing the younger players that they are fortunate to be doing what they are doing."
Kendra Collins' teammates also admire her understanding and caring personality.
"You can always count on Kendra to be talking and lifting people up when they're down," Richardson said. "I think she's a great role model for all of us."
Michelle Collins thinks her little sister is a natural leader, and not just on the soccer field.
Apart from being one of the team's most experienced players, Kendra Collins is also the the players' representative before the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, a role her older sister held in the past.
"She is such a creative person," Michelle Collins said. "As soon as she got here, she got involved. She has taken every opportunity that she has had to impact the lives of as many people as she can."
But Kendra Collins' contribution to the Tigers on Friday was much more that just a few chest bumps and some cheering. After an assist from Blincow, she scored her first goal of the season.
Immediately after the goal, Michelle Collins stood up, applauded enthusiastically and shouted out her sister's name. Her voice resounded all over the stadium.
Kendra Collins did not seem to hear her older sister's cheers at the moment, though. She was fully focused on the game.
But she certainly valued her presence on the stands.
"My sister is my biggest cheerleader," Kendra Collins said. "It's always awesome to have her out there, screaming my name. She reminds me every day how proud she is of me. I couldn't ask for more of a sister."
The admiration and the affection are mutual.
"It's actually really cool to think how much I admire my little sister," Michelle Collins said. "She is so confident and self-assured. She can achieve whatever she wants in life. She knows that the only person who can stop her is herself."