PLYMOUTH — A lifetime of dedication was honored along with the athletes he helped find a place to play as Ancilla College unveiled it’s new digital “Wall of Fame” and dedicated it to the school’s founding and only Athletics Director Gene Reese.
While he knew of the dedication of the new wall, he had no idea that it would bear his name.
“I thought there were a lot of people here for me just sending out an email to remind them of the dedication tonight,” he said with a laugh. “I can’t believe what a surprise and an honor this is. Everybody must have known about this but me. It certainly is humbling.”
Reese started athletics at Ancilla with men’s basketball and now the department has eight sports programs. Reese was the original coach for men’s basketball for eight years, the first baseball coach for its first three years, and softball coach for its inaugural season.
Under his guidance he brought the Chargers into the National Junior College Athletic Association in 1998 and the Michigan Community College Athletic Association Western Conference in 2000.
He also designed and helped coordinate the construction of the outdoor Charger Athletic Complex with facilities for baseball, softball and soccer on the Donaldson campus.
In 2007 he was a force in Ancilla’s partnership with the LifePlex to sign a ten year lease agreement providing first class indoor facilities for men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball. The lease with Fitness Forum also provides workout facilities for all Ancilla athletes.
“When we started all this in 1995 we didn’t have any money, we didn’t have any coaches, and we didn’t have any facilities,” said Reese. “It’s been a long journey to where we are but it’s been worth all of it.”
“I believe that God has a plan for all of us – a purpose and I surely believe that this is mine,” he said. “I feel I was brought here for a reason. I can only give God all the credit for anything that’s been accomplished.”
Reese is a strong proponent of academic success and community service for each student-athlete. Part of each team’s mission is service projects within the community as well as maintenance of high academic standards.
“You know (Hall of Fame University of Texas football coach) Darrell Royal wrote in his book about how he loved to get up every morning and go to work,” said Reese. “That’s how I feel every day. I love what I do. I love getting up and going to work.”
“I really think it’s because I love interacting with people – the students and all the people around,” he said. “I had surgery a few weeks ago and I had to stay alone at home and recover and I was really depressed. When I was finally able to get up and get around and I took a walk and interacted with some people and I was okay. I just love being around people.”
“Someday God may have something else for me to do, but until that happens I couldn’t be happier to be right where I am.”
After college, Reese coached varsity basketball and baseball in three Marshall County schools: Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, John Glenn High School in Walkerton and Culver Community High School, where he led the Cavaliers to their last regional baseball appearance.
He is also a deacon and church treasurer at Koontz Lake Missionary Church and has served the last 20 years on the Walkerton Town Council.
He and his wife Marsha have been married since 1969 with three children and six grandchildren.