Legacy Spotlight – The Collats

By Brian A. Hoffman —

A student’s journey to ZBT, and their ultimate decision to join our brotherhood, can take many twists and turns. We’ve all heard stories of people who “never thought they’d join a fraternity” and ultimately became strong leaders and contributors to the organization. And we all know someone who “joined because of the brothers” who demonstrated our values before they knew their esoteric meaning.

Then there’s the legacy, the student who may have known about ZBT since he was a young boy, who heard about his father’s stories, his grandfather’s stories, about “when I was a Zeeb.” The legacy met his ZBT relative’s chapter brothers at homecoming, reunions, or casually at home over dinner. ZBT may be part of a legacy’s life experience before they even know which college they want to attend; they just know there needs to be a ZBT because of the experiences they’ve heard of and seen tied to the organization.

Unbeknownst to him at the time, Charles Collat started a family legacy connected to ZBT when he joined the Mu Chapter of Phi Epsilon Pi at the University of Georgia in 1950. The next in line in what has now become a three-generation ZBT (extended) family, Charles Collat Jr. joined Psi Chapter at the University of Alabama in 1987. While there was surely a sense of distinction between Phi Epsilon Pi and ZBT prior to the mergers, the two were fraternal brothers from then on. And most recently, his son, Trey, followed in his father’s footsteps, joining Psi Chapter in fall 2017. Trey recalled times when his relatives would talk about ZBT and how the “fraternity can have a long-lasting impact” on his life, especially given our alumni network globally and directly through Psi Chapter.

Of course, just like anyone seeking to join the Fraternity, Trey was recruited by the chapter. “When I graduated school almost 30 years ago I dreamed of having my kids follow in my footsteps,” Charles Collat Jr. said.

Psi has a long history of engaging legacies and keeping their families close, no doubt a contributing factor to their sustainability and success. Independent of his legacy status, Trey felt like he was recruited based on his own merit; the value of being a third-generation ZBT was a bonus. Then, he joined, and realized how unique it is to be “brothers with family members; it’s always an interesting dynamic that we can always share.”

Three generations, two schools, two merged fraternities, one ZBT family.

“The ability to share game day experience, chapter events, parent’s weekend and alumni events will be so memorable for year and years.  More importantly, the bond they have created with their true friends help them navigate the road of life and its twists and turn.  It is this type bond that we share and it all started with Psi Chapter at Alabama,” Charles Jr. said.

At the end of the day, the choice to join ZBT was still his, just like it is for all recruits. Psi gave him a choice, and he knew ZBT was home for him. When asked what message he would share with families or legacy recruits going through a similar situation, Trey was clear. “When deciding to go to ZBT or another fraternity, know that ZBT isn’t like any other fraternities. ZBT is different because of the values that it shares not only in college, but the values you share throughout your life.”

ZBT is a true Brotherhood for a Lifetime, across generations, across campuses. There is not much better in the Fraternity experience than being able to share it with a relative, as it strengthens bonds and shows a generational understanding of maturity and coming of age. The Collats look forward to welcoming another ZBT into their family this fall, as Psi Chapter has already extended a bid to Trey’s younger brother.

“Wherever life takes you, there will always be a brother,” Trey said. That is part of what makes ZBT so special in general. To be able to share that fraternal bond with others in your family enhances that love.