Former KHQ sports anchor finds his passion teaching at EWU


Right: John Collett in the “All aboard” segment with the voice of EWU athletics and the Spokane Empire, Larry Weir. Collett was a TV sports anchor/reporter for six years | Photo courtesy of KHQ

By Josh Fletcher, News Editor

John Collett starts his Introduction to Public Speaking class different each day. To get his students talking, he asks a question of the day. This day’s was  “High socks, or low socks?”

The students’ answers varied depending on the weather, but that isn’t the point. The point is to get each student comfortable talking in front of others and have a deep respect for each other.

Collett is a perfect fit for a public speaking teacher, since he has probably talked to a larger audience than any other teacher at EWU. Collett was a TV sports anchor/reporter for six years before he decided he wanted something else.

“I’ve always wanted to teach in college at some capacity,” Collett said.  

Collett left sports because he wanted more balance.

Working in TV, especially sports, is not always quite as glamorous as it looks on ESPN. Collett’s schedule was nights and weekends, when all sporting events take place, and he realized if this is something he is going to be fully committed to, this would be his life.

But Collett always had teaching in the back of his mind.

“The only thing I ever thought about other than TV was teaching in college, and teaching public speaking in specific,” Collett said.

Collett decided he would start looking into going back to school to get his masters degree and try to become a teacher in the process.

“I’ll study for [the GRE] and apply while I’m at KHQ, and just see what doors open up,” said Collett. “I was trusting that if it was the right time to move on to something else God would open a door and provide a way for me to do it.”

Leaving his sports family was not easy for him or his co-workers who loved having him around so much.

“He was my wing man and really the ‘glue guy’ in our sports department,” KHQ sports anchor Sam Adams said. “I was so happy for him. I told him he had to take this opportunity, because the older you get, the harder it will get.”

Adams and Collett were part of the sports team while they were both with KHQ. Together, their joking and excitement while reviewing the highlights of the day made their anchoring more like Abbott and Costello.  

“John and I had a running joke that our producer would have to ‘under produce’ our sports show by a good two minutes to account for our chit-chat and joking around,” said Adams. “And if one of us laughed, the other one would just make it worse. Some of the best laughs I’ve ever had in this business were with John at my side.”

Collett does a good job of keeping it fun in the classroom, like telling stories of his snowboarding wipeouts in front of his eager mom holding the camera, hoping to see the radical trick he promised her. Stories like this keep his class engaged and wanting to come back tomorrow.

“I like that [public speaking] is something that everybody is going to use in their career, some more than others,” Collett said.

But he wants to do more than just help students get over their fear of talking in front of others.

“The class is two things: It is teaching how to be a human being, and teaching how to give a speech,” said Collett. “I try to make it more personal too… everybody has a different perspective and story and it gives them a chance to share and learn from one another.”

It comes as no surprise that his students are receptive to this kind of teaching style, and it resonates more with them than other teachers or classes they have taken.

“He really gets across to students a lot better than most teachers,” Junior Ryan Ward said. “Everyone is interested in him. People show up and are engaged in his class and not just messing around or not paying attention.”

Collett keeps the class entertaining and light by telling funny stories and keeping the class engaged throughout the lesson.

“If my kids go to Eastern someday, I’d love for him to be their teacher,” said Adams. “Nobody preps more for their work or cares more about others than John Collett.”

Collett will finish up his Masters of Science and Communication this spring. After that, Collett does not know what he will do come fall.

“I hope I’m teaching, but I don’t know what I am doing next fall,” Collett said.

Collett is not afraid that he may have made a mistake or the wrong choice by switching careers.

“I felt like this had been put on my heart to pursue teaching in college,” Collett said.

Those who know him know he has made a good choice.

“He’ll be a great example for college students, and will inspire them to do great things,” Adams said.