Among the most accomplished and respected student-athletes ever at Indian Creek High School, Trey Reese looked forward to a college football playing career.
He redshirted his freshman season at Marian University. The following August, as Knights players were immersed in two-a-day practices, the right-hander dropped back to pass and released the football just as he was tackled by a defender. He went down in pain.
Diagnosed with brachial plexus — which affects the nerve fibers running from the spine through the neck and into the arm — Reese’s college football career essentially ended before it could start.
Unable to muster the same distance or velocity on pass attempts, Reese informed Marian football coach Mark Henninger it was time to begin building the foundation for the second, third and fourth quarters of his life.
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“At the end of my junior year I kind of knew. I let coach Henninger know I was going to focus on academics, and he was very supportive,” said Reese, the Daily Journal’s 2010 Football Player of the Year and its 2010-11 co-Male Athlete of the Year. “It’s just the way the cards are dealt sometimes.
“I don’t regret anything at all.”
A positive outlook allows Reese not to dwell on the fact his college football career ended prematurely due to injury.
Now 23, the former two-sport standout at Indian Creek is scheduled to graduate from Marian in December with a double major in economics and marketing.
As he finishes up classes, Reese works about 20 hours a week for a friend’s landscaping business and coaches the Braves’ seventh- and eighth-grade football teams.
“It’s different being back home, but this is a good experience being able to give back. That’s just how I was raised,” Reese said. “My parents, teachers, coaches and even other parents at Indian Creek were the ones who helped me along the way.”
As the Braves’ quarterback, Reese passed for more than 7,000 yards in his career. As a senior, he helped lead coach Mike Gillin’s 2010 squad to the program’s lone semistate appearance before dropping a 21-3 decision at home to eventual Class 3A state champion Chatard.
Reese finished his final prep season with 3,172 passing yards and 43 touchdowns.
He might have been more dominant on a wrestling mat, winning a title in the 215-pound division at the 2011 Wrestling State Finals to cap a perfect 32-0 season.
Reese is thoroughly enjoying football at the middle school level, especially considering younger brother A.J. is among the players he coaches. However, once he graduates from Marian, he doesn’t see himself embarking on a career in coaching.
“I would love to travel. Maybe work in sales. I really just want to continue learning and not be at a job where I can be complacent and plateau out. I want to keep moving up,” Reese said.
Gillin, whose program won 30 of 37 games with Reese behind center, realizes his former quarterback is likely back only for a short period of time. He’s grateful just the same.
“Trey and his family have meant so much to our program. Just an awesome family. We really needed someone to step in there (to coach middle school), and Trey is just the epitome of why a coach stays in coaching,” Gillin said.
“He enjoys it, and the kids like it. It’s an honor to have him as part of the program.”
THE REESE FILE
Name: Trey Reese
Family: Parents, Skip and Sue; sister, Katie, 25; brothers, Vince, 20, and A.J., 13
High school: Indian Creek (2011)
College: Marian University (will graduate in December)
Best Indian Creek sports memory: “It’s hard to say. It was all unbelievable. I’m very blessed.”