Staff Photo: John Bohn Collins Hill High School head football coach Kevin Reach posses for a portrait during a Gwinnett Passing League event held at Greater Atlanta Christian.
Kevin Reach, 47, is entering his sixth year at Collins Hill and fourth year as head football coach. Reach has a 21-15 record with three state playoff appearances.
Reach is a 1985 graduate of Clarkston, where he played quarterback for head coach Tommy Stringer. Reach played college football at Chowan University in Murfeesboro, N.C.
Reach and his wife Amy have a daughter Brooke, 8, and a son Bailey, 3 In this latest installment of "Getting To Know ... ," staff writer Brandon Brigman talks to Reach about summer plans, the upcoming football season and his favorite non-football activity.
BB: Have you had a chance to enjoy your summer or has it been all football?
KR: So far it's been all football. I did take my family out of town for the first time and took them to Disney World. Once we got back from that, it's been all football.
BB: Did you have breakfast with Cinderella?
KR: No, we've done that before, but I didn't do that this time around. It was more about my little boy. He loves Transformers, so that was our big ticket. We wanted to get him there to see Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. He saw that and it made his whole trip.
BB: When did football become a year-round sport?
KR: Everyone is kind of on the same level, especially here in Gwinnett County. No one wants to be outdone. If you're not keeping up with everyone else, if you're not doing the offseason workouts and you're not doing the early morning workouts with speed, agility and weight training and the stuff you do in the summer time, you're falling behind. Everybody doesn't want to be outworked. That's kind of when it turned into a year-round thing.
BB: It seems like the big thing now is summer 7-on-7 tournaments. Are you a fan of them?
KR: I am. I think it's been good for us. We are a spread team. I'm not sure how much our defense gets out of it. But I think it's good for our kids. Plus you want your kids to be competitive in these tournaments. We get a lot of reps. It's been beneficial for us.BB: What's your favorite coaching cliche to use?
KR: I've always been a no pain, no gain guy. The harder you work, the harder it is to quit.
BB: Do you know who you are playing on Oct. 11?
KR: I can't recall right now, but I think it's North Gwinnett.
BB: Close. It's defending state champion Norcross. Can I go ahead and put you down for a win?
KR: I've seen them up front. I think they are the team to beat this year. They are talented. They do such a good job. From what I've seen, what I saw at Central Gwinnett, I think they are the team again to beat in the region.
BB: The last three state champs are from Gwinnett County. Why has this area been so successful recently?
KR: I just think it's a hot pocket. I think they do a great job in the GFL program. It's just great coaching. Each high school, you have to be prepared week in and week out. I've always said if you can get out of our region, you have a chance. Peachtree Ridge back in 2006 finished fourth and ended up winning the state championship. I feel like it's good coaching. The kids have a lot of extra things outside of football that get them prepared. I think that's kind of helped.
BB: It took you 22 years to became a head coach. Was it worth the wait?
KR: (laughs) Sometimes, absolutely. I tell you with everything when you are in charge there's a lot of headaches that come with it. I think it's a great community, I love it where I'm at. I've had some other offers that kind of fell through or I didn't feel was right for my family, but I couldn't asked to be in a better place. I have a great administration. The Collins Hill family is great.
BB: What's the best and worst parts about being a head coach?
KR: Well, you get to pick your coaching staff. I think that's one of the best things. I feel like I've got a great coaching staff. From top to bottom, I can fit in who is going to fit in that coaching office. That's one of the best things. Plus, the rules you have and the discipline you want to implement, you can kind of do it your way. I've been fortunate to be around some great coaches. Tommy Stringer at Loganville and the Sparks brothers when I was at Clarkston. They are older guys that I was able to pick up some great things from them and kind of implement in our program. The worst thing is disgruntled people sometimes. You can't please them all. I think there's always going to be some people the are not going to buy into your program or they are not going to buy into what you are trying to do. That's OK. You just have to deal with some of the things that come along with that. Seeing a kid going through a career ending injury. I always hate to see that, especially a kid that has worked so hard and has given so much to be out there and ends up with a season ending injury. It kind of puts a lump in your throat.
BB: You played for head coach Tommy Stringer at Clarkston and coached with him at Loganville. What as different coaching and playing with him?
KR: It was great. He was a great man to learn from. I've learned so much from him. Even back when I was playing for him. Football has changed. People that say it hasn't, they haven't been out there on Friday nights. But it's changed so much. The amount of work we put in during the summer time and weight training, isn't anything like it is now. Being able to coach with him, that was a great experience. He gave me the opportunity to kind of implement some of the stuff I wanted to do offensively. He was a big wishbone guy and I kept trying to throw the ball. (laughs) We kind of opened up a little bit. To this day, I probably still talk to him two or three times a week. I just talked to him today. I think he's kind of like a grandfather to my kids.
BB: Was Collins Hill defensive coordinator Larry Massey your coach in high school?
KR: He was the defensive coordinator. I hate to say that. I don't bring that up too much, but he was. (laughs) He was the defensive coordinator and luckily I was a quarterback.
BB: What's it like being his boss now?
KR: I don't look at it like that. I have a great coaching staff. I let them coach. I don't try to micromanage anybody. He's got a lot of experience, so he's a guy I can go to and there might be a situation where I need some expertise. I think he's been in it 42 years now. He's a good one to have on staff. He does a great job. I don't have to go behind him and clean up any mess, he always does a great job. It's been great. We've never had any problems.
BB: What's your favorite non-football thing to do?
KR: Paddleboard. I'm a big outdoors guy. I like to get on the paddleboard and do that. Anytime I can spend at the lake or the beach or just getting out with my family and doing things like that, it's kind of my downtime. I've always enjoyed the golfing circuit, too. I try to get out there and play as much as I can.
BB: This will be the 20th year of Collins Hill football this season. Any big plans to celebrate?
KR: No kidding. I didn't realize that. I hadn't even really thought about what we would do. I'll have to sit down with my booster club president and see if anything needs to be done about that.
BB: A state title would be nice, right?
KR: That would be nice. That's our goal. Like I said, we have to fair well in our region and that's our main goal right now.