His picture stared back at me from the moment it arrived in my email inbox.
Just minutes earlier, I asked for a photo of Charles “Bud” Reich to go with the story about his death that I was going to write. Charter Oak High School football head coach Lou Farrar obliged, and there he was a click later, Coach Reich, smiling at me while I cried at him.
Reich was the person who Farrar had described minutes earlier during our interview as one of the greatest men he ever knew. That same phrase was used by others who I spoke to while gathering information
Another phrase kept coming up: old school. It was often followed by the word “tough.”
I summed Coach Reich up as both of those things in my mind when I first met him, somewhat on accident, following a Charter Oak basketball game during my first year on the prep sports beat.
“Coach Thatcher, may I have a few comments from you about the game?” I said to Reich, who responded “I’m not Coach Thatcher, but he’s right over there.”
According to the roster I had printed from the MaxPreps website, Charter Oak’s head coach was Randy Thatcher. And watching the game, that’s who I thought Reich was because he sure seemed the part of head coach.
Reich later explained to me that he was once the head coach and was now helping out his good friend Thatcher, who took a more calm approach during games.
Reich certainly looked and acted the part of someone in charge. God knew exactly what he was doing when he drafted up Reich, a coach if you ever saw one.
Heck, during Charter Oak’s football game against Los Alamitos in 2012, a cable television company broadcasting the game often showed Reich pacing the Charter Oak sideline as if he were the head coach.
It was a moment that I used to bring up often to Reich. We’d laugh about it. But those days are gone now. Reich’s long battle with cancer came to a close last weekend. The man who fought through sickness and pain so often just to make it to practice or a game, is now gone.
I don’t pretend to have known Reich as well as others. Far from it. He surely touched the lives of his former players and fellow coaches and his family way more than mine. And that’s as it should be.
For many people, myself included, Reich represented the old school. From his straight out of central casting looks to his coaching style to the way his teams played defense to his gentlemanly disposition, Reich was part of what’s fast becoming a bygone era. If you’re reading this, you probably had a coach like him, too, somewhere along the way.
Reich knew when to yell and when to console. He knew how to filter his own competitiveness into his players and reap the rewards. He knew the importance of wins and how to get them. He also knew how to handle losses and put them in context.
So why all the tears?
It took the better part of the week to figure that question out. Like anyone who we admired that has passed, there’s sadness. But this is about more than that. Reich smiles back at me in his picture because he knows he did it right. Not perfect. Not without mistakes. But right.
I cry because deep down I know Reich was a relic. I compare generations, mine versus his, and he smiles while I cry.
They don’t make ‘em like him anymore. That’s cliche but it’s also fair warning.
Former Charter oak High School boys varsity basketball head coach and more recently varsity football assistant coach Charles “Bud” Reich passed away at his home Sunday evening after a long battle with cancer. He was 72.
Reich was head coach of the Charter Oak basketball team for 19 years and took his team to the CIF championship game in 1986, the first year that the school had combined with Royal Oak.
He served as an assistant coach from 2000-07 under former Chargers head coach Randy Thatcher. Reich and Thatcher resigned following the 2007 season after Reich’s son Tyler, a standout point guard, concluded his high school career.
“He was sick the whole time I knew him,” Thatcher said. “He had so many countless surgeries but he never showed it. He was a good looking man and stayed in great shape. There were times he gave me a great two hours at practice and there were times we had to carry him to the car.
“He was the toughest son of a gun I ever met in my life. I can tell you that everyone who knew him is heartbroken, and I’m not sure it’s going to go away.”
In recent years, Reich was a member of Lou Farrar’s varsity football staff. Despite being released from the hospital late last week, Reich insisted he attend Charter Oak’s game last Friday at Bell Gardens. He did just that and saw his beloved Chargers win one last time.
“He was a very good friend of mine,” Farrar said. “I probably have a handful of friends I can count on one hand. I’ve been in tears ever since I heard about it on Sunday night. He and I were very close. We loved each other very much.”
Reich was born in Pueblo, Colorado in 1943 and moved to Southern California with his family before elementary school. He was a standout point guard at Duarte High and later played at Mt. San Antonio College and Cal Poly Pomona, where he led the country in free throw percentage during one of his seasons.
As a coach, Reich was known for his tough, old school style. But his teams played ferocious defense and often made up for whatever size limitations they had with tenacity. He was also a devout Alabama football fan as he had family ties to the state.
“He’d yell and growl at a kid and by the end of practice he’d have his arm around him,” Thatcher said. “A lot of the kids here now didn’t know him that well, but they’re mourning because they felt a kindred spirit with him. The seniors (football player) just look at me in class and shake their heads and say they’re sorry. I know they had to council with some of the football kids.
“Buddy could get riled up real fast, but he was absolutely loving. You never feared anything when he had your back.”
MORE TO COME …
Aram’s Take: I met Coach Reich in the mid-2000s. He was serving as an assistant coach to then Charter Oak boys varsity basketball head coach Randy Thatcher. Reich was able to coach his son Tyler during those years, which was very important to him. Reich was always a class act and in recent years he and I would always talk for a few minutes before Charter Oak football games. I would often joke with him about the time that a cable television station covering the Los Alamitos-Charter Oak game a few years misidentified Reich as Lou Farrar and was following him along the sidelines as if he were the head coach. He did look the part. He was always great to me. Very sad to know a fixture won’t be there anymore.
— Caleb Watkins (@Calebwtkns) September 19, 2015
Most of the postgame talk coming out of Glendora High School’s 42-28 nonleague win last Friday night over fellow CIF-Southern Section Central Division contender Los Altos hasn’t been about quarterback Matt Fink’s huge game or the Tartans’ strong second-half defensive effort.
Instead, it’s the opening kickoff that has many fans still shaking their heads and wondering out loud about what exactly happened when Los Altos tried to bum rush Glendora kicker Caleb Watkins and block the kick.
Why was their no flag thrown for off-sides on the Conquerors? Was Los Altos’ being malicious by rushing Watkins during a part of the process that usually goes unnoticed?
On the play, Watkins kicks off as three Los Altos start toward him and one of them barely avoids making contact with him. The kick is fielded by a Conquerors’ return man and taken nearly to midfield.
Glendora coaches loudly protested that was there was no penalty for off-sides. Watkins demonstratively wondered the same thing on the field and later tweeted “So apparently there isn’t an offsides on kickoff anymore…how in the world is that call missed?”
“First and foremost, there was zero mal-intent,” Los Altos head coach Dale Ziola said. “If you notice on the film, our kid even turned away in order to avoid Caleb.
“Here’s the thought process: Caleb is a stud. He’s got a 99-percent touch-back rate on kickoffs and kicks field goals from all over the yard. So my special teams coach goes “It’s going to be a touch-back anyway, so what’s a 5-yard encroachment penalty? What if we go block the opening kickoff? Just to knock it down. Just to get the kid to go “what the heck?”‘
“And that’s kinda what we did … to see if we could get in his head and rattle him the rest of the night. Obviously, it didn’t work.”
On Watkins’ next kickoff attempt, after a Glendora touchdown for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Tartans answered back by doing an onside kick, which they recovered.
“The onside kick kinda rattled ourselves,” Ziola said. “Our kids who were encroached were ended up not wanting to cross the 50 once the ball was kicked and it kinda backfired. But, we still get in his (Watkins) head and he kicked less touch-backs on Friday night than he normally does.
“That was the thought process. No mal-intent. No cheap shots. Just trying to rattle him.”
As to whether a flag should have been thrown, the answer is a resounding yes from Tracy McFate, who is the assigner for the Foothill-Citrus Football Officials Association.
“It’s absolutely a encroachment penalty and it should have been called as soon as the first (Los Altos) player stepped over the 40-yard line,” McFate said. “We make no excuses. There’s three officials who should have caught it. I think it was the element of surprise.
“I think the intent here obviously was not to cause injury, but the Glendora kid booms it into the end zone every time, so it’s gamesmanship. And I think there’s room for gamesmanship as long as nobody gets hurt. But my phone was ringing on Friday night. The officials know they didn’t get it right. And I did talk to Dale Ziola and he said he’s not going to do it anymore.”
Aram’s take: I speculated on Friday night that this is EXACTLY what Ziola was trying to do. And you know what? WHO CARES? I saw the play live, the Los Altos player held up and avoided Watkins. Nothing wrong with trying to rattle a kicker who you think might be a factor later in the game if it’s close. It didn’t work per se … partly because the game wasn’t close and Watkins wasn’t needed to deliver a clutch FG late. If you’re getting upset about this, then football may not be the game for you.
1. Bishop Amat (3-1) — Still not %100 but looking good.
2. St. Francis (3-0) — Pulled away from Monrovia in 2nd half.
3. La Habra (3-1) — Heckuva win over Los Alamitos.
4. Glendora (3-0) — Finks runs/throws Tarty past Los Altos.
5. La Serna (3-1) — Bounced back to stymie South Hills.
6. Charter Oak (3-1) — Can Chargers finally upend Matt Fink?
7. San Marino (4-0) — Titans could break some records this fall.
8. Bonita (4-0) — Find out more about ‘Cats in Smudgepot game.
9. La Mirada (1-3) — We’ll see what Mats got out of nonleague.
10. Los Altos (3-1) — Offense went missing in 2nd half last Fri.
11. Montebello (4-0) — Got pressed a bit by Arroyo.
12. West Covina (1-3) — No match for Tesoro.
13. Northview (3-1) — Scary when D. Ramirez gets eligible.
14. Diamond Ranch (3-1) — Forgotten Hacienda contender.
15. Diamond Bar (3-1) — Got wake-up call vs. Brea.
16. San Dimas (2-1) — Can Saints stun rival Bonita?
17. St. Paul (3-1) — Good win over decent Fullerton team.
18. La Salle (3-1) — Piling up confidence vs. bad teams.
19. Monrovia (2-2) — Played well for awhile vs. St. Francis.
20. South Pasadena (3-0) — Will soft schedule hurt later?
21. Pioneer (4-0) — Anyone buying Titans in the Del Rio?
22. Damien (1-2) — Scary loss to Claremont.
23. La Canada (2-2) — Playing a solid nonleague.
24. Arcadia (1-2) — Got nice road win over Maranatha.
25. Maranatha (2-2) — Still a work in progress.