Warren Reynolds says goal setting is the key to the success.
The man nicknamed “Big Time” certainly enjoyed plenty of it.
A standout basketball player, coach and mentor, Reynolds will be among six inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday night at the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center.
He was part of the renowned “Ten Tall Men” basketball team at the former Carver High School in Dothan during the late 1950s and became an ultra-successful high school coach at Ballard-Hudson (Ga.) and then on the college level at North Carolina A&T.
Yet what Reynolds is most proud of is making a difference in the lives of young adults away from the basketball courts and ball fields.
“Every one of my ball players graduated from college at North Carolina A&T and they are very successful,” Reynolds said. “They’ll tell you it wasn’t so much of the basketball; it’s what they learned from me how to make it in life.”
Before Reynolds became a coach, he was one of the most talented athletes to ever come out of Dothan as a football, baseball and basketball player.
“I’m the only one to ever to go to Tuskegee University who played three sports,” Reynolds said.
Before getting to the college level, Reynolds was part of a state championship basketball team at Carver that carried the “Ten Tall Men” moniker. Reynolds, who was 6-foot-6, said the starting lineup included himself, his brother, John Reynolds (6-6), James Crawford (6-4), John Callin (6-9) and Ralph Laster (6-10).
“What made them so special is we all grew up together in the same neighborhood,” Reynolds said. “Not only did we grow up together, but we came out of good families. All of us were very good students. We played together from like the ninth grade through the 12th grade. We made the varsity team in the 10th grade – all of us.”
Reynolds and his brother each earned a scholarship to Tuskegee University. Reynolds was a quarterback on the football team, forward on the basketball team and first baseman on the baseball team. His brother was a star baseball player as a catcher and pitcher.
“We were better baseball players than all of the sports, because my dad taught us baseball,” Reynolds said.
After graduating college, Reynolds worked in corrective therapy at the VA center in Tuskegee for two years and really had no intentions of going into coaching.
“I went up to talk to my coach on the Tuskegee campus and he said they were looking for a basketball coach and football quarterbacks coach over in Macon, Ga.,” Reynolds said. “He asked if I was interested. I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll go over and check it out.’ So I drove over to Macon and they hired me on the spot (at Ballard-Hudson High School) as the quarterbacks coach and head basketball coach.”
With no formal training in coaching, Reynolds went to coaching clinics at the University of Georgia and Florida A&M University to soak in whatever knowledge he could on coaching the game.
Yet it’s what he learned as a college student that may have been the difference-maker for what would become a banner coaching career.
“What made me a great coach was taking a class in kinesiology, which is the study of movement,” Reynolds said. “That was the only class I failed because I was using another ball player’s information. She (teacher) called me in and said, ‘Warren, I need to talk to you.’ She said, ‘One day, you’re going to have to learn to analyze human movement, and when you analyze it, you’ll be able to tell the individual how to use the mind to make the body do what it’s supposed to.’ To analyze human movements has been a great asset.”
Reynolds also learned how to motivate.
“What I did is I went to the national basketball coaches association up in Maryland and they had these motivation tapes – like confidence, and enthusiasm,” Reynolds said. “I studied how to motivate by playing these tapes. My key assets are my ability to encourage and motivate.”
It all proved to be a formula for much success. Reynolds led Ballard-Hudson to the Georgia state championship in 1968 and the team was ranked No. 1 in the country.
He next moved on to the college level in 1970 as an assistant coach at North Carolina A&T and then was elevated to head coach. Over the next 17 years, North Carolina A&T became one of the most respected programs in the nation and became the second black college team to participate in the National Invitational Tournament in Madison Square Garden in New York.
“I was trying to find out how I could take this team to another level, so I had to get out of playing just the black colleges,” Reynolds said. “I had to play North Carolina State to go to another level, because they had recruited some of my players. Oral Roberts was the first to play me, then North Texas State. Then I had to play a lot of schools on the East Coast, like Providence, St. John’s, Syracuse. They would beat me, but that got me into the arena. And then I had to put together a team.”
After his successful tenure at North Carolina A&T, Reynolds worked at a handful of other colleges, including Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C.
It was there that Reynolds was nicknamed.
“I went to Shaw University and they had not won any ballgames,” Reynolds said. “They were playing in a little raggedy gym. What happened is I took them out of that old raggedy gym and started playing in the coliseum and I carried them to New York and carried them to play against big-time schools.
“That’s why they called me “Big Time.” Big House (Clarence) Gaines was at Winston-Salem State. They said, ‘We’re going to call you Big Time because you can’t be Big House. We were in the same conference, so Big Time went against Big House.”
Though Reynolds has longed retired from coaching, he still thrives to help others back in his hometown of Dothan.
“Right now I’m teaching people goal-setting is the key to success,” Reynolds said. “I’m working with these young people to help them go to another level in my community.”