hawkhoops.com | Perry Reese Jr 1952-2000
Coaching with the Angels


On November 22, Hiland High School and Holmes County lost a great basketball coach when Perry Reese Jr. succumbed to a six-month battle with cancer.

But more importantly, the area lost a very beloved friend.

Throughout his 18-year tenure at Hiland, 16 of those as a head coach, Reese touched the lives of many people in the County and its surrounding area.

Many of these lives that were touched were done so through basketball, but many more were affected through Reese's vibrant and passionate love for life.

While many people around the area and even the state recognize Reese as a stellar coach in a small school, it is the compassion and love that the people who new him best that revealed the true man inside of Reese.

Reese touched the lives of the people he knew so much, that even though his struggle was over a prolonged six month period, it will still be a long and arduous grieving period for those around him.

"It's going to be a long process to deal with the grieving," said Peg Brand, who helped take care of Reese after he was diagnosed with the brain tumor.

"He affected so many people in such a positive way. He had a way of making people feel special, whether you knew him a lot or a little."

Brand also reiterated how the people of Holmes County felt about their friend, who was so much more than a coach.

To many of them, basketball came second to the friend who made a habit of making others feel special.

Brand talked about the way Reese touched the lives of every student he taught, and how he always would try to help the underdogs.

"That was a rare quality Perry had," said Brand. "He just made it fun to be around him. He had so much credibility with everyone he came in contact with. Nobody will be able to replace him."

Reese's on-court accomplishments are numerous — almost too numerous to list here.

He helped to bring a small, Amish and Mennonite community school to the forefront of state basketball.

He was instrumental in conducting five state tournament appearances in his 16-year tenure as a head coach.

He engineered 11 sectional titles as well as 11 Inter-Valley Conference championships.

But being the type of person Reese was, he would have deflected all praise toward the kids.

That's the way it was for Reese -- it was never about him; it was always about the kids.

That is why Reese was so thrilled about the idea of setting up a scholarship in his name.

The idea of reaching out to help students even after his last days here touched Reese.

According to Brand, it was something that Reese said he never thought of, but the thought of contributing to Hiland students brought joy to Reese in his final days.

By the time this reaches the public, there will already have been a memorial service at Hiland High School's new gymnasium.

A fitting place to hold a memorial not just because it was where Reese lived and breathed the game of basketball, but it was where he touched so many lives.

It is also one place which might be able to contain the masses that will surely attend a memorial for a man whose love and dedication to a community went far beyond the walls of a gymnasium.