By Chris Chaney
After seeing steady improvement over the past two seasons under head coach Craig Stork, the Bethel-Tate boys’ basketball team has a new head man in Reggie Hall who will be charged of continuing the Tigers’ upward trend.
Hall, a perennial assistant to some of the area’s most successful programs, gets his shot at a head coaching gig at Bethel, a job he was chomping at the bit to take.
“The job came open right at the end of May,” Hall explained. “Having coached around the city for 20-plus years, I know most of the coaches and their programs. (As an assistant at Deer Park) we came out here to play Bethel last year and (Deer Park Head) Coach Bock and I talked about what a nice facility they had and what a great place it would be to coach. We were kind of just joking around and six or seven months later, here I am.
“It was a very long interview — two hours — and I told my wife on the way home that I thought it went well, the next day was a Friday and they called me that following Monday and offered me the job. All I said was, ‘where do I sign?’”
Hall takes over the Bethel program after garnering a couple decades worth of experience under big-name coaches such as Dan Fleming of La Salle, Wally Vickers of Lakota East and Steve Bock of Deer Park.
Hall, a Cincinnati native, played high school ball for Winton Woods High School when it was still known as Forest Park. From there he went on to play at Huntington College and immediately got into coaching soon thereafter. He started as a volunteer assistant at Withrow, and then went to La Salle when Coach Fleming was named the head coach. After eight years in the Greater Catholic League, he became the varsity assistant at Lakota East for a similar amount of time before his latest stop at Deer Park under Bock for the last two years.
Over that career, Hall has been instrumental in building some of the most proficient teams in the Greater Cincinnati area. While he is modest in his explaining his involvement in building each of the programs he has been associated with, Bethel-Tate athletic director Jonathan Loudermilk praised Hall’s credentials and was just as eager to hire him as Hall was to accept the position.
“Coach Hall came in and interviewed as one of our three finalist for the job,” Loudermilk said. “He spent most of career at Lakota East and La Salle and the amount of experience he brought in was invaluable. We really liked his demeanor and how he presented himself as a no- nonsense guy with a fair approach. He’s seasoned, he’s been around and he’s help build very successful programs and that was something we wanted to surround our kids with.”
Hall hasn’t wasted any time in getting into the gym with the players and he took the first step to building the program to prominence soon after getting the official title.
“We scrambled around and had our first parent-player meet-the-coach meeting on June 1,” Hall said. “We tried to spell out to the parents what we were going to try and do, our philosophy, who I am and what I will try to do with their kid and what we’re trying to do with the program.”
Just two days later, Hall and his staff had their first summer team camp, which was a success with more than 30 players from seventh grade through varsity show up. Hall said the camp was very rewarding and exciting to see such a good turnout.
“We challenged the players and parents to get (to the summer workouts),” Hall said. “We had three days of team camp and it was tremendous. We put in some of the philosophy of what we’re going to do. We had some open gym and scrimmages and some workouts. We continue to have open gyms. The participation has been tremendous, I could not be happier.”
The summer and offseason workouts are what Hall plans to ingrain into his players psyche as the reason why wins will come in the winter months. Drawing schemes and strategies from his time under Coach Fleming, Vickers and Bock, Hall plans to win games while his team’s opponents are taking time off.
“The No. 1 thing is participation,” Hall said. “We told the parents and players that you can’t expect to win if you don’t put the time and effort in. Everybody wants to win come December or January, but no body wants to win in June or July.
“The same thing, on another level, is everyone wants to win on Friday night, but on Wednesday or Monday, they’re not ready to win and those are the days you win on.”
Strategically, Hall plans to borrow from both Fleming and Vickers. Fleming employs a full-court in-your-jersey defense, while Vickers was more of a half-court defensive coach. Hall wants to take bits and pieces of each and use them when the time comes.
As for personnel, Hall is encouraged by some of the returning pieces, starting with Blace Haviland, a senior multi-sport athlete. Playing football, Hall was able to get Haviland into the summer workouts to lay a foundation that will be easier to refresh when football season ends and basketball season starts in earnest.
Along with Haviland, Hall is looking for leadership from Sam Price, Jadyn West, Jake Robinson and Adam Shinkle going forward.
Having only won 10 games in the last two years combined, Bethel-Tate will look to Hall to restore the Tigers’ name atop the Southern Buckeye standings.