Record-breaking, standout high school and college basketball players don’t automatically make successful coaches.
Kacee Reid learned that early on in her coaching quest.
Fresh off a four-year career as a starter at Cornell University in 1997 — a place where she ranks fourth all-time in career assists (393) and steals (188) and holds the record for most minutes played in a season (1,018) — Reid left for Michigan State to attend law school. She had never thought of coaching before, even though her father was a 300-win coach back near her small hometown of Sherwood, Ohio.
A vacant coaching job at East Lansing High School intrigued her enough to follow in his footsteps.
“He was 100 percent Bobby Knight — throwing chairs and ripping things,” said Reid, who broke 18 records playing for her dad at Fairview High School. “It was acceptable to coach like that back then. …That started a lot of my passion for it.
“My third year of law school, I saw that East Lansing had put a freshman ad in the paper to coach basketball. I thought, ‘Well, I’ll try that.’ I took that job, and I thought I was going to be the best coach there could be, because I played. I learned very quickly that just because you can play basketball doesn’t mean you can coach basketball.”
Reid spent three years with the Trojans before moving on to join the girls basketball staff at Haslett for 10 seasons. Haslett was where she started to “settle in,” and she said once she had kids of her own, she disproved her theory that playing basketball inherently makes you a good coach.
After the 10th season with the Vikings, Reid took her first varsity head coaching gig at Lansing Catholic, a program that last captured a Class C state title in 1995. She is entering her fourth year at the helm there, and the Cougars are coming into the new year carrying back-to-back double-digit win seasons.
Reid, who went 4-16 her first season, is all in on coaching. She’s hoping to build a program of her own.
“It took me a while to find my own identity, because in the beginning of coaching, when I was young and I thought I knew everything, I thought that was how you coached — you do that Bobby Knight style,” she said. I realized that me playing basketball — I know it’s nice for the kids to have a role model — but it really has nothing to do with coaching. It wasn’t me to coach like that, so it was really me finding my identity on how to approach kids.”
Reid is looking forward to having a program that can consistently maintain a position as a frequent competitor. Former Haslett girls coach Bob Currier saw the coaching drive in Reid back when she joined the Vikings’ ship after leaving East Lansing.
It only took one sit down for him to see that she was meant to do this.
“When I was a (junior varsity) coach at Haslett, we had an opening for a freshman coach, and myself and the varsity coach interviewed Kacee,” Currier said. “When we walked out of the interview, I said, ‘Wow, can you say role model?’ She’s a great role model for young women; a mom, an attorney, a great basketball player and coach.
“She related to the girls at a whole different level than what we as men could do.”
Even though she still doesn’t see her prior playing career as the go-to weapon in her coaching arsenal, some of her players hold that in high regard. And when you throw in the Ivy League education, she’s able to preach the game in a different way than most are accustom to.
“From her perspective, she can help us become better student-athletes, like she was,” said forward Meghan Gillespie, who will be Lansing Catholic’s only senior this season. “We all relate to her.”
Junior Katy Shannon said Reid’s success as a player makes it easier for players to understand mistakes and how to fix them.
“She knows every aspect of what we need to be doing,” Shannon added. “When the other team scores, she knows exactly what we did wrong. It’s nice to have someone who sees our mistakes and knows how to fix them.”
Reid believes she’s figuring out how to maintain the stability within the program, while helping players develop before they even step foot on a high school floor. She’s invested for the long haul.
“It really comes at the youth (level),” Reid said. “Our freshmen now, who are on the freshman and junior varsity teams, we’ve been working with them since they were fifth graders.
“When I got here, I was recruiting in the hallways for kids to (tryout) for the team. We had six kids on the freshman team, because two of them (quit), we had eight (junior varsity players), and we had nine varsity players. That was our first year.
“We’re going to be really young this year, but they have a grittier attitude. They’re used to winning.
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.