Grant Reynolds came to Chattanooga with a plan to work in business. He moved from his Louisiana home to be closer to his wife's family, but as with many former athletes the call to coach was too strong to ignore and Reynolds traded a briefcase and suit for a whistle and coach's ballcap.
Since making the sudden change in profession, in 16 years at Boyd-Buchanan School -- 10 as a defensive assistant, the last six as head coach -- business has been good on Friday nights for Reynolds and the Buccaneers.
Boyd-Buchanan has advanced to at least the playoffs quarterfinals 11 of the last 14 years, reaching the state championship game four times and winning it once. The Bucs are one win away from returning to the Class 2A title game, taking on defending state champion Friendship Christian tonight in a semifinal.
Reynolds hadn't been in Chattanooga long when he saw a newspaper article that Robert Akins was the new football coach at Boyd-Buchanan. Both had played at Harding University and they knew one another through mutual friends, which led Reynolds to contact Akins.
In what proved to be one of the best coaching decisions of his successful career, Akins offered Reynolds a job to teach Bible and become the Bucs' defensive coordinator.
A program that had never reached the playoffs won the district championship and finished 11-1 that first year under Akins, with Reynolds' help. The return to the game, the chance to work with and influence teenagers' lives and the taste of winning again was enough to solidify Reynolds' decision to change professions. Coaching was in his blood and he was hooked.
"My wife reminds me every day how much easier things would be if I had stayed in business," Reynolds joked. "Being a coach or a coach's wife isn't always easy, but I love what I do. I realized how much I missed the game that first year being back around it. I just love being involved and around the game and the kids and getting to influence their lives."
By teaching five classes -- including leadership and sociology as well as Bible -- the 43-year-old Reynolds influences kids at Boyd-Buchanan in ways besides football. The school is fortunate to have a man with his high morals and character leading the football team as well as the students in his classes.
Having averaged 10 wins per year over the last five seasons, he's built a reputation as one of the state's top prep coaches. He is just as respected off the field for his ability to teach players not only how to handle winning, but how to accept losing like men.
One of the most important lessons Reynolds teaches during his weekday classes, as well on the field each Friday in the fall, is what it takes to be a leader.
"To be a good leader you have to be a servant first," Reynolds said. "You have to have a servant's heart. Don't do things for recognition. Whatever you do, whatever decisions you make, big or small, do it because it's the right thing to do."
The folks at Boyd-Buchanan are fortunate such a leader decided setting that example was more important than any other business he could've pursued.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...