Messenger Sports Editor
MURFREESBORO — His has jokingly been referred to as “The First Family of Basketball” around these parts.
They’ve certainly been hoop royalty over the last several years.
Union City assistant coach Chuck Reedy was admittedly a proud patriarch Saturday night when the last of his four daughters — Tory — played in the Class 1A state championship game.
“I don’t know of anybody who has put four through it,” a humble Reedy told The Messenger while reflecting on the past few years that have seen each of his four children play and excel in a total of seven state tournaments. “Maria (wife) and I have been truly blessed.”
The Reedy clan that includes oldest sister Abby (Cruce) — the current UC Middle School head coach — Gentry, Aubrey and Tory, have all been major contributors to successful programs at Obion Central, Gibson County and Union City over the last decade.
Each scored more than 1,000 career points and all played for current Tornado head coach Eddie Suiter at some point along the way.
Abby, who overcame multiple knee injuries to earn also earn a scholarship at Lambuth and the Messenger’s Player of the Year Award in 2006, was a junior and an integral part of Obion County Central’s ’05 state quarterfinal team that lost to Knoxville Austin-East in a double-overtime thriller. Gentry, a freshman that year, also played extensively for the Lady Rebels on that squad and then started for three seasons at Troy.
Papa Reedy made the tough and somewhat controversial decision to move his family and third-child, Aubrey, to Gibson County for her junior and senior seasons before the 2008-09 campaign after she’d started two seasons at OCCHS. Aubrey stepped right into the lineup for the Lady Pioneers and was a key cog on back-to-back state title teams, earning all-state accolades and a scholarship to UT Martin as part of a decorated Skyhawk class that included her prep teammate Heather Butler, who has become the program’s all-time leading scorer in just three seasons.
Tory, the youngest of the Reedy sisters who has captured the hearts of Union City’s faithful with her heady and hard-nosed play, was a member of the second of those Class 2A championship teams at Gibson County as a freshman.
Her prep basketball playing days will be best-defined, however, for being the Lady Tornadoes’ unquestioned floor leader in back-to-back trips to the state tournament after never having made it to a TSSAA-sanctioned event before last year.
While acknowledging his girls were never the most talented athletically, Chuck insisted work ethic and expectations of “doing the right thing” helped mold them into good young people before becoming good basketball players. He also claimed that while never pushed toward athletics, sports became a part of who they were as a family.
“When we took a family vacation, it was to play ball. They enjoyed it and it was our time to all be together as a family,” he said “It’s who we were and how we’ve been.
“I’ve never worried about my kids doing the right thing, and a lot of that has been because of their mother. All of them have been blue-collar-type kids. They’ve not been the fastest or the strongest or the highest jumpers, but they’ve all played hard and with great heart. They’ve had great competitive spirit and have respected the game. They’ve never been afraid to go be the first in the gym and the last to leave.
“They’re all are big-picture type kids, too. They understand that any successes they have will come from team success. They are all overachievers and led by example.
Chuck, who himself was a good three-sport athlete at OCCHS, has been involved in coaching his girls in softball and basketball since all were young and small. He was the head of the Troy Summer League Program for six years, helped coach at Black Oak, and also aided Charles Morris coaching junior high football for several seasons.
It is the latter, he says, that should put to rest any talk he’s coached his girls to ensure they’d get special treatment.
“I helped Mr. Morris coaching football at Hillcrest and I don’t even have a son. I did it just to be around the kids,” he said. “In my time with the summer league program, I just enjoyed getting the fields ready for the kids to be able to play on them.
“It’s never been about me coaching my girls to get them playing time. I’ve never asked anybody for a job. People have called me and asked me to help. And as long as the school system at Union City will have me, I’d love to still be involved.”
Reedy also reiterated the reasoning he used at the time to move his family out of the Obion County School System to Gibson County — one that admittedly caused some hard feelings among many persons he’d known for several years.
“It had nothing to do with who was coaching or playing time or anything else from an athletic standpoint,” he said. “There were people making decisions in the Obion County School System that I just didn’t agree with. As the head of my household, I thought is was for the betterment of my family that we make the move.
“It was never about ball. There was no recruiting of any type. It had everything to do with my family. I had that right and that responsibility. It was my choice. And I have no trouble laying my head down to sleep at night.”
The family’s decision to bring Tory to UCHS for her junior and senior seasons after playing for two years at Gibson County was made for obvious and economic reasons, Chuck said.
“I was close to retirement at Goodyear, and we were spending $1,000 a month on gas in our family with us living in Gibson County, Maria working in Union City, Gentry working in UC and going to school in Martin and Aubrey in school at UTM. I couldn’t afford not to put her in school here,” he said. “I was working as a farmhand. We met so many wonderful people at Gibson County who’ve remained our friends and continued to support Tory. Again, ‘I’ made the decision to come here for my family as the head of the household and I did so for the best interests of our family.”
As most folks are familiar, that family is not limited to husband and wife and daughters.
Lois “Momma” Hogg, Maria’s mother — as recognizable as any figure in gyms across West Tennessee as anyone — has been a fixture at all of her grandchildren’s activities, sports and otherwise. Not only did she see Maria through the OCCHS hoop ranks, but also other daughters Joanie (Boucher) and Robin (Mitchell) as well with the latter the Messenger’s Player of the Year in 1989.
And Chuck’s parents, Raymond and Reba, play the grandparent role to perfection, too, having supported — with their presence and vocally — each of the girls.
“Lois set the standard for all of this,” Chuck said. “She and (late husband) Ed, they knew so many people and held such a stature in Samburg when Maria and her sisters were young. They met a lot of those people at ballgames.
“My parents, my dad was a truck driver was gone a lot during the week and it was understood he had to be to make his family a living. There were a ton of times when you’d see his semi parked on the school parking lot at night, though, because he’d stop in and watch games on the way home. My mother took on a lot of his roles while he was gone. She’d be the one in the yard playing football.
“There’s no doubt they all really enjoy the grandparent thing.”
His household has been a relatively calm one, without the usual drama of raising girls, Chuck said. There’s been the usual sibling squabbles about certain things and he shared a handful of entertaining tales about raising competitive girls — none funnier than an incident that happened a couple of years ago involving Aubrey and Tory.
“They were in practice one day at Gibson County and Tory inadvertently — she said — threw an elbow and hit Aubrey in the nose,” he recalled. “They rode to school together, and Aubrey just left her that day and told Tory she’d have to find another way home.”
A conversation with Westview head coach Sean Stephenson before the teams played a second time this season perhaps best summed up the respect others have had for the Reedy girls.
“He just shook my hand and smiled and said, ‘Thank God, this is the last time I have to play a Reedy,’” Chuck laughed.
Saturday’s end-of-an-era admittedly caused Reedy — who has been hired as the maintenance supervisor at Union City Schools and will continue to assist Suiter — to reflect.
“Folks around here have been good to me. Really, I’ve been truly blessed to be around good people no matter where I’ve been,” he concluded. “I love my kids and my family. Kids teach you a lot about life if you just watch and listen. It’s been a great ride.”
No doubt, it’s been one littered with many jewels.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.11.13