End of an era at IWA

Published 9:13 am Friday, March 26, 2010

ISLE OF WIGHT—Jack Reynolds never played high school sports. He played the clarinet.

Yet, despite knowing little about girls’ softball, Reynolds took over the head coaching job at Isle of Wight Academy in 1976. During his 33 years at the helm, he created one of the best Virginia Independent Schools Division 3 teams, winning four state titles while posting a 110-9 record over the past six years.

With some reservations, the 64-year-old in January retired from coaching softball for health reasons.

“It’s tough leaving, but I had to make a decision and say, ‘This is it,’” said Reynolds, whose bad knee makes it tough to teach high school history and government all day and then hit the softball field after school.

“I will eventually need (my knee) replaced,” Reynolds said. “I’m no spring chicken. I have to watch out for myself.”

A teacher at Isle of Wight for 40 years, Reynolds led the softball Chargers to a 2-8 season during his rookie year. The following year, they were 6-4.

The girls continued with annual winning seasons, taking five state titles. During Reynolds’ tenure, the Chargers won 431 games and lost 114 for a 79 percent success rate.

“I took pride in winning, not that winning is everything. I don’t preach that,” he said. “I don’t want to lose a lot of games either. They knew what I expected and they did the job. I’m just proud to have been associated with that.”

Reynolds credits the girls for the team’s success.

“I’ve had good talent,” he said. “You don’t win ball games because you have a coach. I just had to take the talent and work for it.”

When they were younger, many of the players participated in local recreation softball programs and on traveling teams, which helped prepare them for the varsity squad.

“They know a lot of things,” he said. “When I had them, it was more or less brushing up on things.”

During Reynolds’ years of coaching, the biggest adjustment was going from slow pitch to fast pitch.

“The first year we started, I had one girl who could pitch and she was in seventh grade,” Reynolds said.

Erin Griffin was the only pitcher for a few years and continued through her senior year.

“In a few years, we had another girl that was able to pitch,” Reynolds said.

He also coached basketball and football at Isle of Wight.

“When I first came here, I never played basketball, but they wanted a JV team, so I started doing that,” he said. “I also got involved with football and then started with softball. When I got married, I was doing three sports and had to give one up.”

Reynolds coached the girls’ varsity basketball team for 16 years. From 1980 to 1996, the Chargers won 267 games, lost 77 and won several division and conference championships.