Larry Schulte remembers the phone call very well. The story was just out in the evening paper in the spring of 1981 that he had quit as head basketball coach at Black Hawk and there was somebody on the other end of the line, whose voice he didn’t recognize, asking him if he wanted to be the Rock Island assistant coach and promising him a $60 recruiting budget.
Schulte didn’t take too well to the humor. He had just left Black Hawk because of its lack of commitment to the program. Among his complaints was a $50 recruiting budget.
“Who in the hell is this?” Schulte bellowed into the phone.
He soon learned it was Duncan Reid on the other end. Reid really did want him to join him at Rock Island as his top assistant coach. Schulte had no intention of being an assistant ever again, especially after working his way up the coaching ladder for seven years to become a head coach at Sherrard for six years and then at Black Hawk for two years.
“I hem-hawed around and he eventually talked me into it,” Schulte recalled. “My intention was to stay for a year.”
Six years later, he departed Rock Island for a head coaching position at Fenton High School in Bensenville. But before he left, he learned a lot from Reid, who coached at Rock Island from 1980 through 2001.
Reid, passed away from cancer Sunday in Bettendorf at the age of 80.
Schulte was given a great deal of independence, just as Reid had promised, and had a ton of fun.
“He treated me royally,” Schulte laughed. “His approach with me and the other assistants was we had a great time. Some things you can talk about and some things you can’t talk about.”
Reid was easily the most competitive person he ever met, he said. And he was not afraid to go right to the edge of the rules to gain a competitive advantage, Schulte said. Even in their retirement on the golf course, Reid might lose six bets during the round, but make up a game like “Tom-Tom,” or “Roll the Drums,” and find a way to earn it all back on the last hole.
“I would always end up losing the dimes at the end of the game even though I won the actual score,” Schulte said.
He coached with Reid starting in the 1981-82 season as a freshman head coach and varsity assistant. The last five years under Reid he was sophomore head coach and varsity assistant.
“It was a different era,” said Schulte, who later was head coach and athletic director at Alleman High School for 12 years and coached against Reid, then semi-retired and was an assistant at Augustana College six years before finally retiring a few years back. “You could coach kids extremely hard and be very demanding. (Duncan) wanted you to coach them that way.”
With Reid, team discipline began before he even was hired. Reid was introduced to a future player in the hallway while being interviewed for the job. Later, while touring the school, he was shown to a classroom the player was in and sound asleep at his desk while the teacher was teaching.
Reid walked in, Schulte said, “jerked (his head) up and told him ‘You will not play basketball here unless you wake up and pay attention to the teacher.’”
He was always direct with kids, Schulte said.
“When you talk to kids, a lot of times they turn away,” Schulte said. “They would use bad body language and not look you in the eye. He was extremely explicit about ‘when I am talking to you, you will listen, and you are not listening unless we are making eye contact.’”
There was not going to be debate either, Reid would tell them.
And when they were in the gym, no street slang or grunts or groans were allowed.
“You can use that slang out in the streets all you want but when you are in the gym, you are going to address me as Coach, and you are going to acknowledge what I say to you,” Reid would tell them.
Reid’s discipline included tucking in uniform and practice shirts at all times.
Schulte said players also knew the minute they walked from the locker room through double doors into the gym, they had best hit the court running.
“When you get in the gym, it’s competitive nature and you are going to have to be hustling, moving, thinking quick all the time,” Schulte remembered. “As soon as you walk through those doors, you better start running those laps to get loose. It’s not going to be go over and throw up a couple wild shots and talk with your friends.”
Reid’s greatest lesson to Schulte was about letting the kids know that they did matter to him. It was not just a lesson for coaching but life. It was OK to let another male know that they mattered. Schulte had been trained at home and other places from people from an era where little affection was shown by males.
“When somebody is important to you,” Reid told him, “you’ve got to let them know.”
“He would not hesitate to grab a kid by the shirt,” Schulte said, “but also wouldn’t hesitate to put a bear hug on a kid and tell them ‘I love you.’”
Last Monday, six days before he died, Reid called Schulte and told him he wanted to see him. Schulte had visited him other times when Reid was too ill to say much, but this final visit was different. Retired sportscaster Thom Cornelis was there as was former Rocky coach Rod Leatherman.
Old war stories abounded, as did the laughs. Duncan told him he was good with the Lord, that his time had come and he was ready. He had a great wife and life and he was proud of all the people that worked with him and the kids that he coached.
“I was really grateful to have that time with him,” Schulte said.