Blake Reynolds has focused his post-playing days on helping young lady athletes achieve their athletic goals through scholarships, after gaining the attention of college recruiters.
In this case, Morgan Fiedler has committed to McNeese State University, a D1 program in Louisiana.
As the peak of the high school women’s soccer season arrives, girls from every school in the East Valley are pushing for an opportunity to play the sport they love at the next level. One South Tempe resident is working with those girls to help their dream become a reality.
Blake Reynolds, a former collegiate player and coach spanning 16 years, grew up in Seattle and began his soccer career at Cal State San Bernardino in California, followed by Baker University in Kansas. After playing, he began coaching as an assistant for South Dakota State and Baker before eventually taking head coaching positions at Midland University, Kansas Wesleyan University and Fort Hays State University in the Midwest.
Before coaching, Reynolds studied psychology in college, where he began working as a counselor with troubled youth in Kansas. While he loved counseling, Reynolds said his real passion was coaching.
It was just after he came to that realization that his coaching career took off.
Reynolds later reached a transition period, looking to step away from full-time coaching to settling down with a family, at the same time remaining connected to the sport he grew up playing—and loving. He heard through a colleague of Sports Recruiting USA, a company that works with both men’s and women’s athletes.
It was working with the women athletes, though, that emerged as his favorite audience.
“I was raised by a single mom,” Reynolds said. “I’ve always had more of that compassion, and (notions) that she instilled in me.” Fundamentally, though, “I’ve always deeply cared about people.”
Sports Recruiting USA pairs high school athletes with recruiters, like himself, who have experience playing and/or coaching to provide a unique advantage during the daunting process for high school women athletes.
As the girls progress through high school, he says, that’s when players will push for their athletic and academic highlights to be promoted.
“We help families navigate the process, preferably sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Reynolds said, adding that the company doesn’t typically take on freshmen at that point because of the lack of their experience at that level.
“Junior year is when (the players) can start talking to coaches. We help families come up with a plan to get recruited, and then hold their hands on how to do things the right way–the process, all the information and how to talk to college coaches.”
Preparing the young athletes to shine with confidence is a major key in success in finding a great fit after high school, Reynolds says.
However, not all kids have the same needs.
“Some kids don’t need it because they’re all-stars, right? The kid that can go play at ASU, they may not need as much help recruiting. But what about the other kids?”
The goal of each individual athlete is taken into account when recruiters look to get their athlete noticed. The process begins with an initial evaluation, personally watching the athlete play to get a feel for their game.
The next step is deciding which collegiate program would make an ideal fit for that athlete, then discussing what their needs and wants are, not only for an athletic program but academically and socially.
He described the process as a funnel, narrowing down choices until a match is made.
Reynolds is currently working with nine seniors, three of whom will go to Division I; four to Division II; one to Division III; and one to NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Five of his nine seniors are now committed.
According to Blake, working through the intricate details ensures that he will be able to place his athletes in the best program possible for the best chance for success.
And that, he says, as well as helping guide families and athletes into the college athletic world, has what made his job both fun and rewarding.