Jimmie Reed: a football lifer
BY MIKE FIELDS
Jimmie Reed attended a powder-puff football game in Louisville a couple weeks ago.
He wasn’t on the sidelines coaching, or on the field afterward handing out awards. He was there to cheer on one of his granddaughters.
It goes to show how Jimmie Reed’s life is still infused with football. It’s part of his make-up, and has been since he first put on a helmet and pads in the early 1960s as a grade-schooler in Springfield, Ky.
Reed quit playing football 44 years ago, and quit coaching it 22 years ago, but he never quit the game. He’s still active as a fan, administrator and advocate.
“When I played football, I loved the camaraderie and how much it taught me,” Reed, 65, said recently. “Once I got into coaching, I had the opportunity to influence kids and have them enjoy that same kind of camaraderie and that same kind of experience.
“Watching young men develop, teaching them to do things they didn’t know they were capable of doing, that’s what made it rewarding.”
Even when he was the head coach at Washington County (1978-1994), Reed found other ways to contribute to high school sports in general, and football in particular.
He has served as executive director of the Kentucky High School Coaches Association since 1988, and executive director of the Kentucky Football Coaches Association since it was formed in 1994. He was the long-time game director for the Kentucky-Tennessee all-star football series before it folded, and he now helps coordinate the Best of the Bluegrass all-star game. He also helps set up clinics for coaches.
His dedication and contributions to high school sports earned him a place in the National High School Athletic Associations Hall of Fame in 2002, and the KHSAA/Dawahares Hall of Fame in 2006.
As head of the KHSCA, an organization with some 6,000 members, Reed works for all sports. As a football lifer, though, Reed’s heart beats a little stronger for the KFCA.
Reed was a standout tailback at St. Joe Prep in Bardstown, bursting onto the scene as a 14-year-old freshman in 1965 when he scored three touchdowns in his first game. (Full disclosure: Reed and I were in the same class at St. Joe.)
When St. Joe closed its doors after his junior year, Reed, who had developed into an all-state running back, transferred to Washington County. A knee injury kept him from playing football that fall, but he came back to win a state track title in the hurdles that spring.
Reed went on to play football at UK, but another knee injury sidelined him for most of his senior season.
He joined the Washington County coaching staff after college, and took over as Commanders head coach in 1978.
Washington County and Bardstown were rivals of sorts in those days, and Reed got to know Bardstown coaching legend Garnis Martin.
In fact, it was Martin who lured Reed into working with the coaches’ association.
“One day (in 1986), Garnis called me up and said, ‘I want you to go to a meeting with me on Saturday,'” Reed recalled. “I asked what kind of meeting, and he said it was the Kentucky High School Coaches Association.”
At the meeting, Martin nominated Reed to be second vice-president.
“He reeled me in,” Reed said with a laugh.
He’s been a fixture with that organization since, but he’s more visible in his role with the football coaches association. He’ll be at the state football finals next month, as usual, handing out KFCA awards to players and coaches
“Players have always been recognized, but I really enjoy seeing coaches get honored,” Reed said. “There are a lot of them out there who do a lot of good things and don’t get the recognition they deserve.”
Reed feels fortunate to have had a life full of football. One of the highlights was coaching his son J.D., who followed in his dad footsteps and played at UK. “That made a special bond between us,” Reed said.
Just as there’s been a special bond between Jimmie Reed and football for more than 50 years . . . and counting.
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