Former Payson Coach Tapped For Top Honor

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Dan Reid of Payson is being inducted into the Arizona Coaches Hall of Fame in April.

Dan Reid’s life-long dedication and commitment to youth has earned him a spot in the prestigious Arizona Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

The 64-year-old former teacher, coach and ex-Marine will be inducted during ceremonies to be held April 25 at the Phoenix BPOE Lodge.

To be considered for the hall, an ACAHF member must first nominate the coach and then a resume is submitted and evaluated by an induction committee.

Only after that extensive process are coaches chosen to join the hall, which contains the names of some of the finest coaches in Arizona sports history including Buck Hall, Bo “Bear” Whitelock, Jiggs Hardt, Emil Nasser, Tiny Putnam and others.

Former PHS wrestling coach Dennis Pirch, who was inducted into the hall of fame last year, nominated Reid for the honor.

“Coach Reid put Payson High School track on the national map,” said Pirch. “His athletes were leaders on the track and in the classroom.”

Choosing Reid to become an ACAHF member seems a no-brainer mostly because he’s long been one of the most well-regarded, successful and knowledgeable track and field coaches in Arizona.

He’s also an accomplished football coach having coached teams that won a state championship and finished as state runner-up during a five-year teaching and coaching stint at Mayer High School. There he was also once named the state’s “Coach of the Year.”

Reid also served several years as varsity defensive coordinator at Payson High School and in 1986 helped the Longhorns reach the state championship before losing 7-0 to the Snowflake Lobos.

His athletes

During his 27 years at the helm of the PHS track program, he coached some of the finest athletes to ever don Longhorn uniforms including he and his wife Donna’s two sons, Darren and Todd.

Under their father’s tutelage, Darren was a state record holder in the high jump (6 feet, 10-1/2 inches), long jump (24 feet, 1/2 inch and triple jump (49 feet, 8 inches).

Todd was a two-time state champion in the 110 hurdles, one of state’s finest 300-meter hurdlers and a Great Southwest champion.

Darren lauds his father as a coach who “escorted in an era of success and performance rarely seen in any track and field coaching resume.

“He left in his wake a program known for championships and singular individual performers.”

Among the other athletes he helped develop with his unique blend of knowledge, patience and abilities to communicate and motivate were Mark Hochstetler, Nicole Engstrom, Bo Althoff, T.J. Clifford and Ty Chilson.

In the late 1980s, Hochstetler was the finest 800-meter runner in the state, eventually earning a scholarship to Stanford University. He was also a two-time state champion in the 400 meters and a state record holder.

Engstrom, who went on to captain the University of Arizona track team after leaving Payson, was once the nation’s sixth-ranked high school javelin thrower.

Althoff, a pole-vaulter Reid took under his wing in junior high school, once cleared 16 feet, 5-1/2 inches and was ranked fourth in the nation.

Today, Althoff has followed in Reid’s shoes coaching pole vaulters at PHS.

Ryden was a state record holder in the 400 meters; Clifford one of the finest throws competitors in Arizona and Chilson a state champion in both the 100 and 200 meters.

“He was the best coach I ever had, whichever the sport — track or football,” said Chilson. “He would have been a great coach in any sport he chose.”

The development of those individuals led to Payson team success with the Longhorns winning state titles in 1987, 1988, finishing as state runners-up in 1990 and bringing home numerous region crowns.

The success of PHS teams fueled a unique interest around the state. Often overheard at coaching conventions and meets around Arizona, were whispers like, “What’s going on up there in Payson? Is there a track factory being built?”

What only Reid’s closest friends know is that he also coached for six years, Sebrina Kraiger, a Northern Arizona University graduate student who eventually became the German National Champion in the heptathlon.

“I was lucky, I had some really great athletes,” said Reid.

Pirch says, the success was linked to good athletes, but more than that, the achievements were due to great coaching and solid athletic development.

The list of the standout track and field athletes Reid developed is extensive, but not all his coaching was done at PHS.

Pacers and the early years

In 1986, he and Donna founded the Payson Pacers track club that drew members from around Arizona and eventually became the largest youth club in the state with 100-plus members.

Athletes traveled around the country to California, Washington, even New York City, competing in youth meets.

Most of the time, Dan and Donna drove the team members, in private cars, to the meets.

“It was a lot of work, but fun too,” Reid said.

Reid’s introduction to coaching occurred in the late 1960s during his first teaching assignment at an elementary school in Whiteriver.

“I had a $300 supplemental contract to coach three sports,” he said.

After leaving Whiteriver, he taught for a short period at Wilson School District in Phoenix before deciding to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Most of his friends at the time considered his decision to join foolhardy, mostly because the Vietnam conflict was heating up.

“I had no choice, I was going to get drafted,” he said.

It was in the Marines that he developed a true affinity for coaching; taking on a head battalion coaching job for military football and track teams.

Four years after enlisting, he obtained the rank of captain and eventually stepped down to take the teaching and coaching position at Mayer.

“There, I really didn’t know much, the kids became my experiment,” said Reid.

Thanks to some much-needed help from then-University of Arizona coach Willie Williams, Reid chiseled a solid foundation of coaching knowledge that he built upon over the years.

There’s more

As fine a coach as Reid was, that was not his only contribution to the profession.

He served as president of the Arizona Track Coaches Association for three years, was the president of USA Track and Field, a state meet director in 2000 and on the initial certification committee for track and field officials.

He also attended the first Soviet-American Coaching Exchange and became a certified level two jumps coach at a clinic held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Reid has also long been a popular clinic speaker on the Arizona Track and Field Coaches clinic circuit and has appeared at clinics for the New Mexico and Oklahoma coaches associations.

In looking back on his illustrious career, Reid is quick to thank his wife for her support.

“I know this wasn’t what she signed up for,” he said. “But she’s been very, very supportive.”

Supportive to the point of agreeing to become the PHS girls track and field coach in the late 1990s.

“She came alongside me and was great,” Reid said.

Among the accomplishments Reid loves to relish on about his wife is that while she was the Lady Longhorn head coach, she once led the team to the championship of the prestigious Chandler Invitational Classic.

Most impressive about the feat is the PHS team had only two girls score points, but when tallied it was enough to help Payson outscore 5A Mesa Red Mountain by a single point.

In retirement, Reid stays busy traveling the Southwest as an educational technical consultant for the Phoenix firm Backbone Communications.

While most believe Reid has removed himself from the coaching scene, he’s harboring a secret few know.

“Some of the kids I had in Mayer remain close friends to this day and those kids now have kids,” Reid said. “I get calls from them to get workouts for their children ... I’m kind of a long-distance coach.”

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