What qualities make a coach great? Think back to any coach you had that stood out from the crowd and think for a minute about the characteristics he possessed. What comes to mind for most people is someone who was a great leader, motivator, competitor, or a technician. However, many coaches have these traits and more. So what separates Coach James Reynolds from most college coaches? Sacrifice and commitment.
While most coaches are committed to their teams, few coaches that I have known do as much for the athletes as Coach Reynolds does for the individuals on the wrestling team. Every day Coach Reynolds consistently wakes up at 6 a.m. to run morning practice for those guys that have morning class, he wrestles full time with no breaks during practice taking on All American Matt Baker on a daily basis, and then after practice he will do extra technique or extra live goes with anyone that wants to do so.
In other words, Coach Reynolds is not your average three to 5 coach, someone who is only there during practice. He is truly committed to his athletes, and last year, even after tearing his labrum, he continued training with and preparing both Aaron Denson, and Ryan Pankoke to be national champions, a goal which they both achieved. It is rare to see someone sacrifice as much of their time and demand so much of their body as Coach Reynolds does on a daily basis for his wrestlers. Yet, when asked what the hardest part of being a coach is, he didn’t say anything about the training, the early mornings, or the time commitment; the hardest part of being a coach in his eyes is having to watch a wrestler struggle, either with injuries or losses, and having to try to help them through those rough patches.
And it is from those experiences of helping guys fight through adversity that he has gained some of his greatest insights into what someone needs not only to be a successful wrestler but a successful competitor in any sport. In his own words he says that you can’t “make” someone a good wrestler, you can only give them the opportunities to get better and to succeed. That’s why he is up working out every morning at 6 a.m., and that’s why he stays after practice to do extra work with guys. Because he wants to give every athlete on the team the opportunity to improve and make themselves the best at what they do.
Through thick and thin, through injury and adversity, he has always been there for any of his wrestlers that need help or someone to work out with.
One of his favorite quotes that he lives by is that “I can’t allow someone or something else besides me to influence how successful I am.”
That is why, despite having bad knees, a shoulder that by all means requires surgery and a full time job, he still finds the time and energy to work with guys both at 6 in the morning before the day truly starts and after practice when the day is at a close. Coach Reynolds expects only the best out of himself and his wrestlers, and that’s why everyone on the wrestling team is lucky to have him here; he is not only a great coach, he is also a great role-model and a great person. Someone to truly look up to.