Photo by Derek Bell
Matt Davis (MD): To start us out, Coach, I want to ask you, how did your love for the sport of football begin?
John Reid (JR): I think it started playing backyard football with the kids in the neighborhood and watching the NFL on Sundays. We were very fortunate to get one or two games a week back then. I remember seeing Dick Butkus play, and Chicago was my favorite team. So, that’s probably where it got started. Also, my uncle worked at Notre Dame. He was a professor and I became a big Notre Dame fan, so my love for the sport started with the Bears and Notre Dame.
MD: What made you decide to come here and be the head coach of Rome? What sparked your interest in the Wolves?
Well, I think there’s a huge demand for successful football and championship football in this city and it excited me that they wanted that. It was segmented at one time with West Rome and East Rome, and both had great football teams. Since then, I don’t think that we’ve had a championship kind of football. There’s been some good football teams and the challenge of bringing home a championship is really what brought me here. I’ve really had some good times in North Georgia. I was at East Paulding for seven years, so I like the area and it was exciting to have this opportunity.
MD: What can you tell the readers about yourself?
Let’s see, I’ve got three kids. I guess they’re not kids anymore because my oldest, Colton, played football at Air Force Academy and is an officer in the United States Air Force. My daughter, Kirsten, is an assistant basketball coach at Columbus State. My other daughter, Courtney, attends Kennesaw State. I’ve been married for 28 years to my wife, Julie, and she’s been along all the way for this deal. We’ve lived in three states and coached football in three states. We’ve coached at a pretty high level in all of those states, so it’s been an exciting time for our family and a great career.
MD: You’re known for having a knack for turning programs around, and that’s one of the reasons Rome High has cited as having hired you. So, how do you feel your previous experience has prepared you for the challenge of leading this program to success?
When you walk in, or even prior to taking the job, you know the symptoms of a program that has not been successful for whatever reason. I think one of the biggest things you have to have is a team that is willing to defend something that is not there to defend. What I mean is, if that there is no championship to defend, why do we have to practice hard and why do we have to play hard? The first thing that you have to instill is that confidence – that swagger – in those kids so that they feel they are going to be successful. Those are things that have happened all along the way. Each place is going to be different, have its different quirks and things going on. You have to establish a parent group, a base group that is going to help you. In this particular situation, we had to purchase field equipment and most of the time that’s the case. We needed things so that we can practice the way we need to practice.
MD: When West Rome and East Rome combined to form Rome High, and this has been over two decades ago, the expectation was that this program would quickly become one of the state’s elite programs. The Rome Wolves have had some successes, as you mentioned, along the way, but not at the level that I think a lot of people expected. Do you think that it’s realistic for people to expect this program to become an elite program?
You have to take a look at what it takes to become an elite program, first. You must take a look at Buford, Calhoun and Moultrie, and in 6A some of the others that have been super successful. What you notice is their facilities and money. It takes facilities and finances to build and support this team at that level. My expectation is that we’ll improve every year and achieve a level where when people speak of Rome Football, they talk about the highest level. I want them to look up to us and see what’s going on at Rome and ask, “What can we do to try and improve our program?” So, we’ve got a ways to go. We’ve got great kids and we’re trying to get parents and the whole community involved. I mean, just the parent of the kid is not all we need to be great. We need the whole community, and I think that’s one of the positives of being here is that the community
can get behind this program.
MD: Any time a new coaching staff comes in, changes are going to take place. When you guys get ready to take the field for your first game, I would imagine that the fans will expect to see some changes in terms of how you run your offense, defense, and so on and so forth. What do you think are the biggest changes that you’ve made getting your team prepared to go into this season?
One of them, and I don’t know if we’ll see it yet, is to be physical. We want to be aggressive on offense, defense, and special teams, and we want to play hard. We want the fans to leave saying, “Man, we got beat by a better team tonight.” Whether we lose or we play great and win, we want to get the community behind us and be the type of program that they are really excited about. We want to put people in the stands. Offensively and defensively – I don’t know if it’s so much the scheme – could change from year to year based on talent. But, the overall appearance is that we want to be aggressive. We want to be physical and we want to be exciting.
MD: When your players graduate and move on to whatever is next in their lives, when they look back on their experience here at Rome, what do you want them to take away from this program?
I think the most important thing is not that they’ve become a great football player. That is important – becoming a good football player and having success is all part of the process. But, we will never have that success unless we teach these kids. Part of our program is a part of growing up and being responsible and having integrity in your life. Really, our core values will fit that. I want them to reflect our core values in their lives, and those are family, toughness, being trustworthy. Being able to trust each other is important. Overall, integrity is very, very important. So, those are things that I want them to look back on. Kids are already looking back and calling me and saying, “Coach, what you said meant a lot.” That’s what matters most to me.
Thanks, Coach, and good luck this season.
Look out for the 2015 High School Coaches Preview Show on WLAQ 1410 and follow your favorite teams all season long. Also, tune in to the ROC High School Football Scoreboard Show on 95.7 The Ridge.