Former Hale football coach to be inducted into hall of fame
HALE — For many people who enjoy what they do for a living, work can be a labor of love.
In the case of former Hale Area Schools varsity football coach Vern Reed, he would tell you he doesn’t think of coaching as labor at all.
His love of sports led Reed to a lengthy coaching career from the early ’60s until his retirement in 1994, and now Reed is being honored for his coaching career as he will be inducted into the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame Sept. 16 at Central Michigan University.
“I received a letter in April letting me know I was going to be inducted,” Reed said. “It’s awfully rewarding to get this kind of recognition for my career. I’m very fortunate.”
Reed, who coached at Hale from 1964 to 1994, said the ceremony will be special for him, as he is a CMU alumni.
“It’s going to be a special thing having the ceremony there,” Reed said.
The September ceremony won’t be the first hall of fame induction for Reed, as he was previously inducted into the University of Michigan Football Coaches Hall of Fame in 2001.
“That was quite a thrill for me,” Reed said of his 2001 induction. “I met (former U of M football coach) Lloyd Carr and got to talk with him throughout the ceremony. He was a great man to talk to.”
For all of the awards and accolades he received in his career, Reed said his career had a humble start during his days playing high school sports in his hometown of Vermontville, a town just west of Lansing.
“I just had such a great time playing sports in high school,” Reed said. “I knew I wanted to pass that feeling on to other people, so I knew I wanted to be a coach.”
Reed got his chance after graduating from CMU in the spring of 1962, as he took a job coaching football at Bellaire High School in the fall.
Reed’s dedication to coaching could be seen very early in his career, and his dedication quickly led him into some hot water with his wife, Marilyn.
“My wife and I got married right after we graduated college,” Reed said. “We were on our honeymoon in Mackinac and I had just accepted the job at Bellaire, and they wanted me to come in early and get to know the team and start training, so I cut our honeymoon short and headed right to practice the minute we got back.
“Safe to say, she still reminds me of that from time to time,” Reed joked. “But she’s been a saint through all of it.”
Despite receiving no pay for his work, Reed dove headfirst into his duties, as he not only coached the football team, but started coaching basketball and baseball.
After getting some experience under his belt, Reed said he got the chance to move to Hale in 1964 thanks to his wife’s connections.
“She was friends with the athletic director at Hale and they were looking for a football coach, so she let them know I was interested,” Reed said. “I had the hankering to challenge myself after coaching six-man football at Bellaire, so I got the job in Hale and we’ve been here ever since.”
Through his time at Hale, Reed built up the football program by teaching his players how to work hard and compete as a team.
“We were never really gifted athletically, but we always had good kids who always worked hard and played tough,” he said.
Reed said one of the highlights of his football coaching career was in 1969, when his team went 6-1-1 in the North Star League and was ranked as one of the top 10 teams in Class D.
His coaching didn’t stop with football though, as he said he coached boys track and also brought girls track to the school in the ’70s with the help of his wife.
He said he also served as the athletic director at the school for a short period of time in the ’80s, and he helped begin the volleyball program at the school during that time.
For all of his contributions to the school, the football field at Hale was named Reed Field in his honor in a ceremony during homecoming in 2010.
Reed said that ceremony was another special moment for him.
“It’s a wonderful feeling when a community accepts you,” Reed said. “The people here have been very good to me and my family and we’ve lived here for 51 years. It’s a great place.”
Although his coaching career is done, Reed said he and his wife keep busy by working in their garden throughout the year and just keeping busy in general.
“We keep busy with the garden and other things,” Reed said. “There’s always something to do.”
Reed said he’s currently gearing up for the upcoming college and pro football seasons to keep him entertained through the fall.
Although his life has been less hectic since retiring, Reed said he still misses stepping out on the field and coaching up young adults.
“I think for me, the best part of coaching was seeing the kids improve as the season went on,” Reed said. “When you see a kid improve and see how he’s developed at the end of the season, it’s a special thing. It lets you know you’ve done your job.”