BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
PHOTOS BY ALLIE SCHWEIZER
After five years with the Fort Hays women’s soccer program, Blake Reynolds is leaving his head coaching position. In a personal statement posted on his social media, Reynolds said that he, his wife, and his daughter are moving to Arizona in order to be closer to family.
“Right now I’m so busy getting ready to move, that I haven’t really had time to think about what’s coming next,” he said. “I think when the season rolls around next fall and they get ready for that first game, and I can watch it online, that’s when it will probably really hit me.”
Reynolds started his soccer career at the collegiate level at Baker University in Baldwin City. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he coached as an assistant at both Baker and South Dakota University. Reynold’s head coaching career began in 2009 at Midland University in Fremont, Nebraska. Then, from 2013-2016 he coached at Kansas Wesleyan before coming to Fort Hays.
Reynolds was just the second head coach in program history. He had an interest in coaching at Fort Hays for the higher level of competition.
“I was really looking for an opportunity to coach at the division two level. Obviously, being at Kansas Wesleyan just down the road, we played Fort Hays a lot, so I had a good idea of how successful Coach Shaw had been and how nice the facilities were, so it was easy to be interested when the job was open. I talked to Coach Shaw about it as well and he had great things to say.”
After four official seasons, Reynolds’ overall record at Fort Hays is 39-27-11. The team’s best record during his time was 11-7-2, and they had two more seasons with at least 10 wins.
One memorable moment that Reynolds reflected on was a playoff game against Missouri Southern during one of his first years. The game went into 13 rounds of penalty kicks after overtime.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that,” he said. “[The kicks] were on the far side of the field, so it was on the Missouri Southern side, and we were all standing in a line watching the kicks, and as they go on and on, I started kind of creeping away from the team and by the end, when we finally won, I was standing on the opposite fence 120 yards away from everything. It was just the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced. So that was a pretty fun moment.”
Reynolds also spoke about what has made him proud during his time at Fort Hays.
“I didn’t have the big moment that I thought I would have, of getting to the national tournaments and winning a conference championship. That’s something that we weren’t able to achieve while I was here. But, just the daily impact that you have, when you stay in touch with alums, that’s why I got into this in the first place, was the relationships,” Reynolds said. “We won some big games and had some success, but I’ll just always remember the years and every single person that’s come through the program. I’ve gotten to be a part of their lives for however long their journey was, and that’s what I’ll miss for the ones that are staying, is that I won’t get those memories with them anymore.”
Aside from the relationships, Reynolds said that the biggest takeaway from his time with soccer is how much he has changed as a person.
“The first 15 years of my career were about winning, being successful, making an impact on the lives of the people I coached, but then looking for the next opportunity to move up. That came to a halt halfway through my time here when my priorities changed,” he said. “If I hadn’t had a daughter, I think I would still be full steam ahead doing this job and trying to win a championship next year. That’s the biggest thing for me.
“Soccer brought me so many places, and opened so many doors for me in life,” he continued. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was seven or eight, and then coaching since I was 23 or 24, so it’s been a part of my life for 75 percent of the time I’ve been alive. Just the places that it’s brought me and the people I’ve met, that’s what it’s been all about.
“But, those late nights and long nights are taxing. To do that at this level you have to make some sacrifices, and I’m not willing to make those sacrifices right now. I don’t want to be one of those dads that looks back on life and regrets that he wasn’t there for all of his children’s ‘firsts’, so that’s kind of why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
Reynolds closed with his appreciation for the community he has been a part of for the last five years.
“I’m thankful to the Hays community and the university itself. It was such a fun five years,” he said. “I’ve worked at six universities, and this was the best place in terms of the atmosphere. It was just a really cool place, so I’m going to miss all the people here and I’m thankful for the relationships that I have. I’ll certainly miss it.”