One of the best things about growing up on East Broadway was living across the street from Tom Reynolds, likely the happiest person I have ever known. Tom had that unforgettable belly laugh that brought joy to anyone who crossed his path.
In addition to teaching science in Findlay City Schools, Tom was the long-time golf coach for Findlay High School, a perennial state powerhouse. Tom reached the pinnacle of his coaching success when the Trojans won the 1984 AAA state championship. Even while Tom coached one of the state’s best programs, he always stayed humble. His most famous quote was, “I was selected to coach the FHS golf team because I was the only teacher with a station wagon big enough to haul the golfers and their golf bags.”
I always suspected that Tom was being overly modest about his role in the successes of his team. His positive attitude had to inspire positive outcomes. Stu Bauman, captain of the 1980 FHS Trojan golf team, recently shared, “Coach Reynolds didn’t even play golf, but he didn’t have to. We had talented players in Findlay; we knew how to play. He helped us with the mental aspects of the game and he brought out the best in us. Coach Reynolds was fair and he played the kids who should play. He was the best coach for me as he challenged me to not only be the best player, but to be the best person I could be as well.”
On September 30, I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Sycamore Springs Golf Course near Arlington with Tom’s daughter, Rhonda Nye (NB ’78), who has been the varsity coach of the Van Buren High School girls’ team since 2008. Rhonda’s team was competing in the district tourney at the conclusion of a banner season that included finishing first in the Northwest Ohio Girls’ Golf League (Southern Division). Just like her dad, Rhonda has coached in the state tournament as her Black Knights represented northwest Ohio there in 2011.
Rhonda is blessed with the same great laugh as her dad. Her optimistic energy was displayed by the Van Buren golfers who always acknowledged each other with a big “thumbs up” as they passed each other on the course. Rhonda said that Tom had coined the phrase “thumbs up golf” during his coaching career. Tom and Rhonda both believe it infuses positive team spirit into an often lonely individual sport.
Rhonda mentioned that she asks each potential team member why they want to participate on the Van Buren golf team. Rhonda said she can’t remember one survey that didn’t include the word “fun” as one of the answers. Carol Rowe, a recent Findlay High School golf coach, remarked that “Rhonda is like a second mom to her team. They love her!”
As I observed so many similarities between Tom and Rhonda during the golf match, I asked Rhonda why she decided to become a golf coach. She said that her sons, Drew and Devon, had both competed as golfers for VBHS and she had become comfortable with the format of golf tournaments so when Van Buren first offered girls golf as a club sport, Rhonda volunteered as a coach that season. She smiled when she told me that her dad, Tom, was able to share that first season with her.
It’s obvious that Tom’s greatest legacy, his optimistic spirit, lives on in the form of his daughter, Rhonda, as she continues to inspire high school golfers the same way that Tom inspired his golfers “to be the best person they could be.” And so does his sense of humor, as Rhonda joked that both she and Tom worked as golf coaches, but only her son, Devon, and brother, Jeff, ended up with a hole-in-one. And then she laughed that contagious Reynolds laugh.