Several years ago, Larry Reynolds’ body started to betray him.
When he quickly stood to shout an order on game night, he soon sat due to dizziness. His handwriting drifted to a scribble after a sentence or two. People questioned why he never smiled while he thought he was smiling. His voice was reduced to a hoarse.
The diagnosis was jarring: Reynolds, the respected Cal State Stanislaus men’s basketball coach since 2009, had Parkinson’s disease.
He notified Athletics Director Mike Matoso two years ago, and they quietly monitored his condition until this week when a dramatic new course was set.
The Warriors have appointed Paul Trevor, the former San Francisco State coach who’s described Reynolds as a mentor, to the position of co-head coach.
“I’m still going to be around,” Reynolds said. “I hope I respond like I tell my players. Sometimes you’re going to be down and out, but you still go to battle. If it’s important to you, you give it your all. Until they tell me I can’t go anymore, I’ll stay out there.”
Reynolds, 63, works out four to five times a week and is in excellent shape. He’s looking forward to working with Trevor, who built the Gators into a California Collegiate Athletic Association contender in seven years. Last season was his best: 25-6, a trip to the NCAA Division II Tournament for the first time in 23 years and a No. 22 ranking at season’s end. The Gators were 107-86, 80-68 in the CCAA, under his guidance.
Trevor, 48, will visit the Stanislaus campus this weekend for the first time as a Warrior coach rather than a rival.
“It is going to be a great opportunity for me to be working with coach Reynolds,” Trevor said in a Stanislaus press release. “He is extremely well-respected throughout the coaching profession and has been a mentor for me throughout my career. The university has made a commitment to athletic excellence and I am looking forward to being a part of it.”
Trevor no doubt will lighten the physical load on Reynolds, whose strength waned during last winter’s disappointing 6-21 season (3-17 in the CCAA).
Sometimes you’re going to be down and out, but you still go to battle. If it’s important to you, you give it your all. Until they tell me I can’t go anymore, I’ll stay out there
“I didn’t want to suspect something but you could kind of see it in his energy,” said guard Richard Medina, who will return for his senior season. “It’s heartbreaking. I know how much he loves this game. That’s the reason why he’s still coaching. He tells us this game is his life.”
Reynolds informed the team earlier this month.
“Coming in every day trying to be fired up for the team (last season) was difficult,” he said. “You always felt you needed to give more, and it wasn’t there to give at that time.”
Reynolds’ symptoms cropped up the year after Stanislaus’ best season since it jumped to Division II. The 2013-14 Warriors went 23-9, claimed the CCAA tournament title and won an additional two games to reach the West Regional final.
He also coached Long Beach State into its first NCAA Tournament berth in 12 years (2007). The veteran coach will be inducted to the Cal State San Bernardino Hall of Fame on May 19.
Reynolds and Trevor came from the same program. When Reynolds left San Bernardino for Long Beach State in 2002, his assistant Jeff Oliver took over took over the Coyotes’ program and hired Trevor as his assistant coach.
“Larry is old school. He’s all about loyalty and his guys,” Matoso said. “It was really important for him that it was someone he really trusted and had a relationship with.”
The Stanislaus players also remember Trevor.
“One game while they were shooting free throws, I said to him, ‘Good game, huh?’ And he said, ‘It’s college basketball. I love it,’” Medina said. “I like his spirit.”
Matoso said he and Reynolds agreed with both the coaching addition and the decision to go public with the coach’s illness.
“I’ve been in athletics for 25 years and I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who’s more respected than Larry. He’s been dealt a bad hand,” Matoso said. “I want to see him finish out his career the way he wants to finish it out.”
Reynolds says his medication has been adjusted and is condition has stabilized since the end of the season. He’s also done some recruiting.
“We have to make a push here,” he said. “I’ve been out more than in years past.”