Last Thursday afternoon, former players, friends and family members gathered in Wray, Colo., to celebrate the life of an icon.
The men had their hair cut above the collar and ears and wore ties, just like coach Reed taught them years ago.
Edwin David Reed taught history and began coaching Little Snake River basketball in 1973. He demanded his players cut their hair short, wear ties to games and show sportsmanship. He taught them respect for themselves and others, Linda Fleming said.
“Some probably got a haircut because they were going to Mr. Reed’s funeral,” Fleming said, who taught alongside Reed at Little Snake River Valley School and is mother of one of Reed’s former players.
Reed coached the Little Snake River basketball team to five state championships, four state runners-up, and six state cross-country and track championships.
“Ed was an icon in the state,” LSRVS athletic director Ann Wille said. “He loved to work with kids. He demanded that they be respectful. He just cared deeply about kids and even after he retired he was a true Rattler.
His son David may have been on the team, but Reed treated all of his players like his children, his son said.
“We’re like brothers,” said David, who still has a close relationship with his former teammates today.
A memorial group on Facebook, In Memory of Coach Ed Reed, is filled with stories of former players. Sara Linsacum posted a few of her memories:
“It’s hard to describe how big of an effect Coach Reed had on my life. He started coaching me in the sixth grade and saw me through my senior cross country season, but I can easily say he was in my ear through all of my college track meets and still today as I run down the roads, or as I embark on a new journey in my life. The message I hear over and over is, push ... Push myself harder whether it be in a race or life. He believed in me when I didn't. He knew I could always try harder, work harder and be better. Coach Reed was a great man. I hope someday I can be half the coach, mentor and leader he was.”
Wille taught next to and coached alongside Reed.
“He taught (his players) a lot of values, not only in competing, but in life that they still carry with them today,” Wille said.
Reed moved to Colorado to be closer to his grandchildren, but he would drive back to Baggs to support the kids at games. He had even planned on coming to the state championship this weekend, Wille said.
Reed served as secretary of the Lions Club, served on the solid waste board and was active in the Catholic Church.
In a memoir, Fleming wrote that Reed would be the first through the door on Election Day and it became a contest to see if someone could beat Reed to be first in line to vote.
Reed was inducted into the National High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame and the Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was an active member of the Wyoming Coaches Association and acted as the executive secretary, working on fundraising efforts for the association.
Reed also served in the Marines for four years. The military inspired Reed to coach and teach that anyone could accomplish anything if they focused, according to his obituary.
“He had a strong sense of civic duty,” David said. “He loved everyone and tried to be helpful to all, and tried to teach and coach that as well.”