Wake Forest student hones coaching skills as high school track assistant

Angelique Reynolds coaches the high jumpers and quarter-milers at Reynolds High School while attending college at Wake Forest University on an academic scholarship.

Wake Forest student hones coaching skills as high school track assistant
May 19
07:30 2016

Photo by Craig T. Greenlee



Angelique Reynolds became a high school track and field coach in a round-about kind of way. Her master plan was to run track at Wake Forest University and go to school on an academic scholarship.

Reynolds came to college as an 800-meter runner and high jumper. To further enhance her development, she started working with Derrick Speas, a highly respected personal trainer who works with Olympic-caliber and professional athletes. Speas is also the girls’ track coach at Reynolds High School.

The two worked out a barter arrangement in which Reynolds agreed to coach RJR’s high jumpers and quarter-milers in exchange for Speas serving as her trainer. Reynolds’ initial plan, however, never came to fruition. Being a track athlete at Wake Forest required a year-round commitment. As a freshman, she was unable to devote 12 months to track because of a prior commitment to band (she plays clarinet).

As a sophomore, Reynolds decided to forego a college track career and continue to attend school on academic scholarship. For the past two years, she has served as an assistant coach at RJR.

“I observe and identify what they’re doing wrong,” said Reynolds, a graduate of Charlotte East Mecklenburg. “Once that’s done, we go about making the necessary corrections. But I’m still working on development. I want to make sure that I know everything I need to know about the high jump and the 400.

“So, I’m still learning every single day. It’s been hard trying to juggle school work and coming here [RJR] with coaching responsibilities and helping kids with their problems. It is a lot. But, it’s definitely worth it.”

Reynolds, a 21-year-old English major with a 3.5 grade-point average, first came to Wake Forest in 2013. She’s on track to graduate in December, which is a semester early. Her career goals are to serve as a school principal and later on, as a school system superintendent.

Although Reynolds’ days as a competitive athlete are over, she gets immense satisfaction in helping athletes learn and grow. Watching them exceed their own self-imposed limitations, she explained, makes the time she spends with them worthwhile.

“I know a lot of these kids’ stories and backgrounds,” she said. “It’s a joy to listen to what they have to say after they’ve posted a personal best or did something they thought they could never do.”

Reynolds points to high jumper Tremond Wright as a prime example. Wright, a senior basketball player, was a complete newbie to high jumping. After basketball season, Wright decided to come out for track and he started working with Reynolds.

In less than a month, Wright improved by 10 inches and was No. 1 in the NCRunners Class 4-A state rankings in mid-April (cleared 6-feet-6 inches). Wright’s promising season, however, ended prematurely when he suffered a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) after playing in a pick-up basketball game.

“I remember Tremond telling me ‘I can never do this,’” said Reynolds. “But once he put in the work and got better with his technique, he progressed very quickly. As a first-time jumper, he became among the tops in the state prior to his injury. Working with the athletes and helping them reach their potential is what keeps me coming back.”

Wright doesn’t hesitate to credit Reynolds for his growth as a raw rookie. “Coach Reynolds really helped a lot,” he said. “She was always there to encourage me and support me. I appreciated that so much.”

The past two years have been an enjoyable learning process for Reynolds. Looking back on that time, she notes how big a role experience plays in a coach’s ability to bring out the best in their athletes.

“I’ve learned how to get the kids to buy into the program,” she said. “They’re beginning to take track more seriously. They realize you can get a full-ride [scholarship] to college with track and field.

“I’m definitely working on a more personal level with them. In the high jump, now I can tell them what direction we’re taking in training from one week to the next. Last year, it was more like ‘just jump and we’ll pray for the best.’”

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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