By Tommy Keeler Jr.
STEPHENS CITY -- Kevin Reed is used to winning.
Everywhere he has been a head coach, he has won. Whether it was coaching middle schools teams or Amateur Athletic Union teams or high school teams, Reed has won championships.
That's why enduring a six-game losing streak this season was so hard on the Sherando girls basketball coach.
Early in the season, the Warriors lost six straight, the worst losing streak of Reed's coaching career, and fell to 3-8 on the year. Reed will be the first to admit he didn't handle it well.
"It wasn't bad with the girls, it was just my own personal frustration with losing," Reed said. "The girls never lost sight of what they were doing and their respect for me and my respect for them. That was never the issue."
Reed, The Northern Virginia Daily's 2012-13 Girls Basketball Coach of the Year, said a talk he had with Sherando athletic director Jason Barbe helped him deal with it.
"As a friend and as my direct boss you know we decided to sit down and just talk, and it was a pleasant talk because Jason was a coach and he understands the situation I was going through dealing with being used to winning and then going through some losing," Reed said. "We just talked as two professionals and as two men. It was carefree, off the record and it was refreshing to know that you have administration that will support you when you're struggling, which I was through those adverse situations."
Reed has always been very competitive, and he said that's why he had trouble dealing with losses, but it's also what helped turn things around.
"A lot of people are competitive, but I'm competitive over the edge at times," Reed said. "The reality is sports brings out the best in people, and it also brings out the worst in people. And when you wear your emotions on your sleeve like I do, it's out there for everybody to see. It can come across in a very negative manner. Therefore when we were losing, that's tough.
"But it's also that passion and drive that keeps it going strong. I never personally stopped trying to find answers."
Reed said he realized he had to stop worrying about the win/loss record and just coach. He had a young squad, with no seniors, and a combined nine freshmen and sophomores. It took time but his young squad began to come together and pick up some key wins.
The Warriors won 12 of their final 15 games.
Sherando finished tied for the regular-season title with Millbrook, but then beat the Pioneers in a one-game playoff.
Reed said that was the highlight of the season for him.
Sherando's Jessica Hakel and Erin Magalis, both starters, fouled out in the third quarter and another starter, Heidi Brown, had four fouls, and things didn't look good for the Warriors.
"The whole team stepped up and played well," Reed said. "It looked like we were done when [Millbrook] tied it up at 28-all. Then for us just to completely control the game and beat them by 15 points going away was extremely special. And I think that everybody who was in the gym that night realized we were for real. Our team was for real and the efforts that we put in it was signified by that moment."
The Warriors also beat the Pioneers in the district tournament championship game, giving them three wins in four meetings this season against Millbrook.
Millbrook had dominated the district the last four years, and Reed said it was a big step for his program to step up and take the top spot.
Reed said he expects the rivalry to continue for years.
"Beating them three out of four times, it was clear that we were the best team at this time," Reed said. "And so I think it's something that both schools will continue to look forward to now that victories have been dished out by each team. It's fun, it's good and it's something that our girls relished and looked forward to. Winning the playoff game against Millbrook and the way that we did, I feel like we will continue to grow."
Things may have been tough for Reed, especially during the losing streak, but he said once he looked back on it he knew the losing made the eventual wins even sweeter.
"The final reward was greater than I could have imagined," Reed said. "To overcome that [losing streak] meant that much more. If it would have been easy it would have been more like, 'Oh, that's what we thought.' To actually do it after that rough beginning, it meant a lot to everybody. It still does."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org