39 seasons. 573 wins. 8 gold balls and 11 Eastern Maine championships. The numbers are impressive indeed. When talking about veteran basketball coach Roger Reed, the numbers don’t begin to tell the story.
In a profession rife with egos, Coach Reed carries himself with a humility and level of class few others exhibit. Make no mistake, any successful coach needs to project a certain level of outward confidence. This confidence, if one is not careful, can spill over into pride and arrogance. The pronouns we and our over time begin to turn into I and my. We’ve all been around those kind of people, I’m sure. Coaching, if you are involved with it long enough, does have a way of making you humble. No matter how successful a coach is, the majority of seasons, even for the best of the best, end in disappointment. Think about this for a moment: out of Coach Reed’s 39 seasons, 31 of those either ended with a loss or with his team missing the tournament.
Spend any amount of time talking to or listening to Coach Reed, he never speaks about his own accolades or successes. It is always about the players and those who have helped him along the way. He will be the first to tell you that players, not coaches win games. Oh, and he’s had many great players over the years. Many of these athletes didn’t just show up as standouts, through hard work and coach’s tutelage they became outstanding. With Coach Reed it’s never been about ‘my system’ carrying the team but about the players.
Any conversation I’ve had with Coach Reed, I’ve always come away feeling positive from it. In my many years of knowing coach, first as a student at Bangor High School, and later through our mutual involvement in the game of basketball, I’ve never known him to speak negatively of another program or coach.
In preparing to write this week’s column, I hearken back to the words spoken by the late Ron Brown, a fine basketball coach in his own right. During one of our late night conversations, Roger Reed’s name came to the forefront, as well as others during our dialogue. I will paraphrase but he told me to think back to all of the conversations over the years I’ve had with a Roger Reed, and a few other highly regarded, well-spoken coaches. He then asked me to contrast those with every conversation I’ve had with those coaches who speak negatively, praise their own accomplishments, back bite, etc. He concluded the thought by saying, then you realize why those people are thought of the way they are and why those in the second category are thought of the way they are.
The words of Christ also come to light when thinking about this induction weekend. In Matthew’s gospel, chapter 23 and verse 12, Jesus said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.” While Jesus was referring to His kingdom, earthly applications are also relevant. We tend to praise and honor those who don’t exalt themselves.
The recent letter he penned, which was published in the Bangor Daily News, is Coach Reed to a T. There was not any mention of his accomplishments, but rather it was to thank the many people over the years, who have contributed to his success. You see, those who are truly great don’t need to remind others or keep score of their accomplishments compared to others. They will receive their honor, as coach is duly receiving.
As Coach Reed is being honored by his rightful induction into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame, it is not only about the numbers, but it is in recognition of a man who has not only taught the game of basketball but how to live. It is about handling oneself with humility and class. Because of these traits and many others, we gladly salute him and say congratulations on this well-deserved honor.