Football Leader

Scott Swanson

When Dick Reynolds is on the sideline at Husky Stadium with his fellow chain crew members during football games on Friday evenings, he knows many of the players in green and gold quite well.

That’s because he’s coached them himself, either in youth football or at the junior high.

He shouts encouragement, tries not to coach too much. Delivers commentary to his fellow chain crew members (and anyone else standing nearby) in a raspy voice that’s instructed hundreds of players over the past 26 years – including one now playing in the National Football League.

Reynolds, 63, says he’s really just passing on what others gave to him.

He was born at Lebanon Community Hospital to Ken and Dorothy Reynolds and raised in Holley, a member of a giant local logging clan. Reynolds himself grew up with six siblings and two half-sisters.

“When you mix the Rices and Reynoldses together, it’s a big family,” he noted. He was raised for some years by his grandparents, Ed and Marie Reynolds.

Bob Rice, a family patriarch, also helped out.

“Bob’s been a mentor for me,” Reynolds said. “He’s somebody you look up to, somebody you hope to emulate.”

He attended local schools and played football and wrestled for Coaches Norm Davis and Bruce West at Sweet Home High School, where he also played baseball under Coach Paul Dickerson.

“Those guys were a big influence on me,” Reynolds said.

In the fall of 1970 he was a member of the first Sweet Home football team in years to post a winning record, when the Huskies were finally moved out of a league that included much larger schools in Albany, Corvallis and Salem.

He graduated from Sweet Home High School in 1971 and went to welding school at Linn-Benton Community College. Graduating from that program, he moved to Portland to work in the shipyards for six months.

“I couldn’t wait to get back here,” he said. “It’s a pretty ideal place to live – the mountains less than an hour away, the forests, and you’ve got the ocean.”

Back in Sweet Home, he worked as a head welder for Willamettte Industries at the old Santiam Mill for 11 years and got married.

After a divorce nine years later, he married MarySue Cook, who had moved to Sweet Home with her family during the dam construction in the late 1960s.

Together they had five children – Mandy (Ballinger) of Sweet Home, Tiffany (Scott) of Sweet Home, twins Tracee (Dalke, of Wilsonville) and Troy (Scott of Corvallis), and Grayson, who is their son together.

When MarySue’s best friend Tammy Howe, who lived “right around the corner” died, they took in her children, “who were basically raised with ours already,” Ricky and Kimmy Howe. Ricky now lives in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Kimmy lives with Tracee Dalke in Wilsonville.

“They’ve been our kids ever since,” Reynolds said.

In 1983 Reynolds bought a log truck and has been driving ever since.

“My whole family has been in the logging business,” he said. “When I could see that the mill would shut down, I went to work in the woods.”

He’s been hauling logs for Mike Melcher since 1985. “They’re good people to work for.”

The next year the Huskies were starting a run that would eventually lead to a state football championship in 1987.

“I went down to Husky Field to see what was going on and I saw the chain gang guys on the edge of the field. I said, ‘You guys have got a good vantage point here.’ They invited me to join.”

He’s been working the chains, marking the yardage during games, ever since.

“I think in all that time I’ve only missed two home games,” Reynolds said.

Meanwhile, he started coaching his oldest daughter Mandy’s softball team, which eventually led to lots of coaching for his and other kids – T-ball, football, basketball.

“I started the first fifth- and sixth-grade tackle football team in Sweet Home,” he recalled. “The Boys and Girls Club told me they were going to start one and wanted me to coach it.”

His younger cousin, Dustin Nichol, a former all-state high school football player, had just graduated from college and Reynolds called on him for help.

“I said, ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve been in football, but it’s not so long for you. Help me out.’

“He took that team, which was Troy’s team, all the way to high school. I just stayed with the fifth and sixth grade.”

When his son Ricky came along, with a young teammate named Matt Slauson, “I moved up to seventh and eighth grade. I coached those boys for four years in a row.”

Slauson went on to play football at Nebraska and now plays for the San Diego Chargers.

Reynolds wound up coaching over a decade with the junior high teams, “trying to build a program” for his buddy, then-high school Coach Rob Younger, with whom he still gets together each Saturday morning at Skyline Inn for breakfast and some Bible study.

When he’s not driving truck, Reynolds says, he’s doting on his nine grandchildren and spending time with MarySue, who recently retired after 33 years at LBCC.

He’s loved the Boston Red Sox since he watched Carl Yastrzemski on TV as a kid with his grandfather. He’s a Green Bay Packers fan, and he’s made trips with family members to see both on their home turf in recent years.

But he’s still coaching those fifth- and sixth-grade football players.

“I love coaching football. The biggest reason I love it over coaching baseball or basketball is that in football, if you don’t have all 11 guys on the same page, if you have one guy screwing up, you don’t have a successful play. In basketball, you can have a couple of dominant players who can carry the team, or in baseball you can have a couple of pitchers or good hitters. In football, you can’t do that.

“It’s so gratifying when you get all 11 guys working together.”