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The following interview is with Coach Kenny Reese. Coach Reese was the head varsity Football Coach, Wrestling Coach and Girl Soccer Coach at one point at Sequoyah High school in the mid 1980s when I attended during that time. I watched Coach Reese in action as he coached Sequoyah High School football team for several years since I was on the school’s marching band and had free access to all the Friday nights football games. I reconnected with him on Social Media (FB) along with some other former Sequoyah High School students from that era.

As people normally post their thoughts regularly on social media and receive responses and feedback, I observed that this coach is admired by many of his former students and athletes. As a result, I asked Coach Reese for an interview concerning his coaching career and to get his thoughts concerning the lasting effect that Coaches have on the athletes/students they were responsible for leading.


You can listen to the digital audio here!



Stafford:

Hello Coach! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Foremost, I want to say I only have good memories of you when I think of Sequoyah High School (now Sequoyah Middle School located in Doraville, Georgia). I think Sequoyah was a special and unique High School with good people and a good atmosphere for the most part. How did you start coaching at Sequoyah, and which sport were you primarily hired for?

Coach Kenny Reese:

I started teaching and coaching at Sequoyah in 1979. I actually coached at Sequoyah in 1977. I was the Head Wrestling Coach in 1977 but I taught at Smoke Rise Elementary School. Then in the summer of 1979 I got word that Sequoyah had a PE job open and we're looking for a Boys Gymnastics Coach and Assistant Football Coach. I went over to the school and talked to Mr. E.L. Spencer, AP, and I started working there that afternoon. I was hired as the Head Gymnastics Coach. I had coached Tucker High School Gymnastics team to a State Runner up in 1978. I also was a grad of Sequoyah in 1972.

Stafford:

So from 1977 to let’s say 1989 or when you finally left Sequoyah High School, what was your coaching philosophy as it related to winning games, player motivation, player management, etc?

Coach Kenny Reese:

I always tried to motivate by example. Winning takes a combination of talent, passion, hard work and a little luck. I always tried to teach my athletes to take their abilities and prepare a plan that works for them. Whether that be training, strategy and/or preparation. In addition in team endeavors finding the right chemistry is extremely important. Be an unselfish teammate is a must.

As far as how I treated players I always tried to have empathy. I believe that it is not important that you always win, but it is important that you always try to win. I also tried to instill a level of fairness and Sportsmanship. I think that goes along empathy in anything in life. That philosophy transcends the sports arena and touches your soul.

Stafford:

Thanks Coach! I have found that proper preparation can determine the outcome of games in the favor of the team that was better prepared. However, that is not always the case. Have there been any situation where any of your teams prepared to the best of their ability only to end up on the losing end of the match. If so, how did you handle it, and what would say was the cause of that team (yours) not winning (Example: extraordinary opponents, referee mistakes, weather, etc.)?

Coach Kenny Reese:

Yes I have played games where we did everything we could but things just did not go our way. When that happens I always refer to the Serenity Prayer. Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change those I can, And the Wisdom to know the difference. After all, the other team practices too!

Stafford:

Thanks coach. I can see how that approach will allow you as the coach to move on and not dwindle over spilled milk. Do you have any specific situation how that was communicated to your players and if so how did they accept it? Or was that something you instilled in them from the start; Example: “We do our best to win, but if not, we pick ourselves back up and move on!

Coach Kenny Reese:

As far as specific examples are concerned, I probably can think of more examples in wrestlers than anything else. Often times when you know you are overmatched you set goals that put you in a reachable competitive position. When goal setting is concerned, it is not reasonable if you can not control all of the factors.

Stafford:

Hey Coach when I look on Social Media, it seems you have a large amount of your former students and athletes who actively communicate with you. They were teenagers when you last saw them and now are adults. Many of them have married, and have their own families. What does it mean to you to have open communications with those former athletes and students who were once under your leadership, many of who befriended you?

Coach Kenny Reese:

It means a great deal to me. I have always told people when asked what I teach or coach, I say I teach/coach people. The subject or sport is just a vehicle. Once we form a relationship of trust and respect knowledge is easily passed from one to the other. I feel, in so many ways, that I am a wealthy man! You cannot have enough love. I truly have been blessed to have been able to be a small part in so many lives!

Stafford:

Hey coach, sometimes when you are an athlete, coach or teacher, etc, and if you are doing well in that area, people will sometimes take notice and will let you know in little ways that you are good at what you do; And it could be because you may have displayed some unique skill or demonstrated some leadership ability. When those people are sincere, that is sometimes a confirmation that you are doing what you were called to do at that time. What I am trying to get at is at what point in your coaching or teaching career did you receive a confirmation that you were in the right field?

Coach Kenny Reese:

I suppose that affirmation occurs when you see your students becoming passionate about what they are doing. And sometimes they will thank you for what you do or they may just tell you that they love you. That is all that I have ever needed. Hopefully when all of those things come together you win. The process of interpersonal contact is the journey that is enjoyed and the outcome or destination is a byproduct of that journey. After all the best part of a trip is the journey not the destination.

Stafford:

Thanks for taking the time to do this interview coach. Before we end, is there any quote that resides within you, that you live by and can be a help to the listeners/readers of this interview?

Coach Kenny Reese:

“In my own words, I try to make sure that I understand the student athlete and employ empathy to every situation. When you are dealing with people, it is better to go by the heart and not the book!"


Stafford:

****It was great interviewing Coach Reese. I met up with him after 25 years for lunch. He retired from coaching but occassionally perform teaching duties in the state of Georgia.****