The Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association added four new members to its Hall of Fame on Saturday evening at the 15th annual induction ceremony at the Holiday Inn in Worthington.
Former Hiland coach Perry Reese Jr. was presented by his friend and fellow coach Dave Schlabach who presented Chris Reese, who graciously accepted the honor for his late brother.
"I just wish he was here to see this," Reese said. "To see all the lives he touched."
Reese was inducted into the coaches Hall of Fame along with legendary coaches Walt Harrop Jr., Rick Brook and Fran Guilbault. The four coaches combined for nearly 2,000 career coaching victories.
Schlabach presented memories of Reese to the throng in a touching, tribute.
"I am truly humbled to be in the presence tonight of not only such quality coaches, but quality people," Schlabach said. "The longer I'm in this profession, the more I find the good people that surround this game who truly make things special.
Schlabach reflected how things had changed in little less than a year.
"At this time last year, I remember Perry and I having discussions about the summer, planning open gyms and camps, and talking about our teams, their strengths and what we wanted to accomplish the next year.
Perry truly taught us to enjoy life, and enjoy each day," Schlabach continued. "He somewhat prepared us for what took place. And from that situation, we can definitely learn to take each day and live it to the fullest."
Schlabach said it was hard to summarize Reese's life and many accomplishments in a few words.
"Do you speak of the unusual situation in which he found himself: a black man in an Amish community; a devout Catholic in a conservative Mennonite Holmes County area?" Schlabach asked.
The coach pointed to the things that mattered most to Perry — the relationships that he developed with his players.
"No one demanded more from his players than Coach Reese," Schlabach said. "Our No. 1 job as coaches is to motivate. Kids are much more likely to be motivated if they know their coach will always be there to challenge them; discipline them, but more than anything, love them.
"I heard at a coaches clinic many years ago from Rick Pitino that the most powerful motivation a player could have is when he or she wants to win for their coach. Many people always wondered how Perry could get so much from what on paper looked like so little.
"I always felt it was because of the relationships he built and those players rising above and beyond so that he might approve of their effort," Schlabach said. "It's easy to think that so much more could have happened if only he were still here.
"More championships, more wins, more life-changing relationships with his players. But you know they are happening. Coach Reese was so disciplined in his own beliefs that what he felt was important both on and off the floor, his instincts became instilled in so many, now his players are coaching our kids, teaching our students to be fathers to their sons, in a way Coach would've been very proud."
Schlabach reflected on Perry's influence on himself as a coach during his fourth season at Hiland.
"We were expected to have a good year that year," Schlabach said. "In our fifth game, our two guard goes down with and ACL tear. 10 days later, my All-Ohio point guard goes down with an ACL tear as well.
"I remember vividly, sitting in my locker room office, feeling sorry for myself, my head down, hearing those steps coming. I knew it was him.
"He opens up the door, reaches across the desk and slaps me in the head.
"He says, 'You've got 12 kids waiting out there in the gym. How you walk out of this locker room determines how they will handle this.' That was one of the greatest lessons he ever taught me.
"He was telling me it was never about me, but always about the kids," Schlabach said. "That is why he touched so many lives. He was always helping kids.
"Today, we honor a man who truly epitomizes what it means to be called coach," Schlabach said. "It's not the wins or championships that matter in the end, but rather the lives he touched and the boys he helped to become men. Accepting for Perry tonight is another truly special person, his brother, Chris Reese."
"There is no way I can stand up here and share the feelings about what Perry has done and given to the community," Reese said. "Since June of last year when we found out Perry was ill, it has been a long and hard journey for everyone involved. Our family would like to thank you all very, very much, for this honor on behalf of our brother.
"Perry would've been honored very much for this award," Reese continued. "We appreciate that he is being recognized for his achievements in the community. Not any particular community, because the last time I checked, this had reached all kinds of communities in a very positive aspect for any man of any color, any creed.
Reese added that he appreciated the accomplishments of the other inductees.
Harrop was presented by Zanesville High School coach Scott Aronhalt, a former player and assistant coach under the former West Muskingum, Mount Healthy, River View, Ashland and Crestview coach. Harrop and his late father, Walter Sr., are the first father-son members of the coaches Hall of Fame. Walter Sr. was an inaugural member of the Hall of Fame in 1987.
Guibault was presented by his two sons, former players during his 38-year tenure at St. Henry.
Brook, too, was presented by two of his sons, who played under their father during his 32-year coaching career at Sebring McKinley.