Coach Shawn Reese

by Terry Watson | December 20th, 2017
Coach Shawn Reese and Mendenhall Middle School players Photo by Levester Hart()

Coach Shawn Reese and Mendenhall Middle School players Photo by Levester Hart()

Shawn Reese has been a staple in the Greensboro football community over the past 13 years, coaching teams before players get to the high school level. A volunteer coach and offensive coordinator with Pop Warner teams, including the Southwest Jets, Reese has spent the past three seasons coaching at Mendenhall Middle School working the first two in a similar capacity.

This season was Reese’s first as the assistant head coach and he was able to help Mendenhall pick up a 5-2 record. The former Page High School linebacker and tight end also grew up playing at Mendenhall, along with the recreational centers in the city.

“It means a lot to be able to give back to the community,” Reese said. “I played at all of the rec centers here, so it feels good to be able to give back and teach the game. I started coaching at the Lewis Rec Center with 11 and 12-year-olds for about six years before moving on to Pop Warner and spending time as a defensive coordinator at Northern.

“This season, (Mendenhall) was in a stacked conference with a lot of competition. We were co-conference champions in a four-way tie.” Reese said it feels like everything has come full circle, coaching his former school while also looking to instill character in the new generation of players.

“With me playing football growing up, I’ve looked at it as the best team sport,” Reese said. “It teaches kids how to be a part of a team and gives them responsibility. It’s a bit like the military because there’s a lot of precision involved with the game and it teaches them the tactics to be successful collectively. I loved the game growing up — it helped me to become more responsible — and I wanted to teach kids the same thing.”
Reese said being a coach deals with much more than drawing up plays and running practices.

“As a coach, you’re doing more than just teaching football,” Reese said. “You have to give back and make sure they understand more of the world. Coaches didn’t have to deal with social media back then and nowadays it can be hard for us to be both a friend and a coach to the kids.

“As a coach, the philosophy is that the kid has to want to run through a brick wall for you. That’s how you know you’re getting through to them, when he says ‘I’m ready.’ You want them to understand things beyond the football field and mentor them with what life has to offer. Some kids have both parents, but others don’t have a father figure so it feels good to be able to step in and garner the trust that you’ll do the right thing.”

In the offseason, Reese also runs a program in Greensboro to reduce the possibility of damaging hits in football, teaching the proper way to make plays without concussions.

“I run a training program called Hut Hut Football training where we teach proper tackling technique,” Reese said. “We do a lot of core work on stabilizing the head and shoulders, making sure the kids are hitting properly. With so much fear about concussions in football, it’s best to teach as early as possible.”

Reese said getting players into the game at a young age is best for their development, particularly when it comes to having the basics down before the high school game.

“It’s never too early for kids to learn,” Reese said. “There’s no such thing as ninth grade varsity and a lot of times, kids may go to high school football with no guarantee to make the team. It’s a good thing to learn the game early and pick up the teaching in youth league. There are players who come to high school without being able to reminisce about middle school, and they may not be as athletically inclined before getting behind the curve.”
Along with getting better acclimated to the game, Reese said there’s a stronger chance of making it to the collegiate level.

“Football gives a lot of guys quite the opportunity,” Reese said. “They can look for scholarships and a lot of times they can get their education paid for. Not everyone can be a Division I athlete, some can get a full scholarship at DII and even at the DIII level there are ways to get a scholarship or receive financial aid to get there. The sport can carry kids a long way over just playing.”

Reese said he wants to continue progressing as a coach and make it to higher levels in the future.

“I graduated from Guilford College in sports management, knowing I wanted to coach at the high school and possibly college level,” Reese said. “This is something I love to do and I’m working every day to improve. I’m going to all of the clinics, learning from other coaches and utilizing what they’ve said with my own philosophy to become better in this profession.” Reese said he would prefer to continue coaching in Greensboro if he’s able to go further. “It can be tough to break into high school football locally, but God willing, I’ll make it to that next level.”

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