OGDEN — Most athletes have been influenced by their coaches in one way or another, both on and off the court.
But to have the relationship that ex-Ute David Reichner shared with legendary head coach Rick Majerus is extremely rare and goes far beyond generic X’s and O’s. It's a relationship that the Saint Katherine College associate head coach continues to hold close to his heart to this day.
As he continues to teach the coaching styles of the late Majerus, Reichner sat down with Deseret News sportswriter Ryan Love to talk about his playing days, his coaching career, and how his evolving relationship with Majerus developed over the years.
Q: You transferred from Southern Virginia University to the University of Utah to play under Hall of Fame head coach Rick Majerus, where you then went on to capture two Mountain West Conference titles and appear in two NCAA tournaments over the course of your career as a Ute from 2000-03. What was your overall experience like playing for Coach Majerus?
A: Priceless. I cherished every moment. You know, I’m a coach’s son, so I’ve been around the game of basketball my entire life, and I really appreciated the knowledge and wisdom that Coach Majerus displayed in the game of basketball. It wasn’t always easy for everybody, but for myself, there were some times where it may have been difficult, but I look back on it and value every day I was there. It was a great opportunity and a great experience. I mean, he is a legendary coach, a Hall of Fame coach. And to be honest with you, as a head coach at the high school level still, I emulate just about everything he does: his offensive sets, his defensive sets, his terminologies. So I guess you could say I am kind of a protégé of Rick Majerus.
Q: You’ve had tremendous success coaching at both San Jose State University and Florence High School. Do you implement any of the coaching styles that Majerus instilled in you over the years as a coach today? Would you say your coaching styles are similar?
A: I’ll be very honest: I probably do exactly everything he did, except for the language that he displayed on the court. I hold my tongue a little bit differently, but other than that, to a “T”. The offensive sets that we run are pretty much all his; the defensive sets are all his; and a lot of the philosophies are his as well.
Q: What specific memories do you have or hold on to of your playing days as a Runnin' Ute or of Coach Majerus?
A: I remember playing against Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. We lost to them, and I remember beating Oregon and Luke Ridnour in the NCAA tournament in my final year — a lot of great memories. I remember going over to Hawaii and playing in the Maui Invitational. He (Majerus) always took care of his players, you know? We traveled well; we ate well. He really made sure that we were treated nicely and he cared about us.
Q: What was your first reaction when you heard the tragic news that Majerus had passed away?
A: Um, it was a little bit shocking to be honest with you. The reason is, we were getting ready to go to Europe as a team one time when my mom had a heart attack, and Coach Majerus literally saved her life in our (family’s) opinion. He had her transferred from her hospital to the hospital where his doctor was, because he has one of the best heart surgeons in the world, and he transferred her to have heart surgery at his hospital so his doctor could work on her personally. So that meant a lot to the Reichner family — and you know not just to me, but to all of my siblings — so my relationship with Coach Majerus was a little bit more intimate in that regard. Whenever I called him or spoke to him, it was always, ‘Hey coach, how’s your mom doing?’ and ‘Dave, how’s your mom doing?’ So a little bit different than X’s and O’s.
Q: As a loving husband and father of seven children, how do you juggle to find a healthy balance between your duties as a head coach and your duties as a husband and father?
A: I am extremely blessed right now to be in the situation that I am. I work for an incredible man, coach Scott Mitchell at Saint Katherine College, where they value family. It’s an Eastern Orthodox college, where Christianity and Christian values are very important and the priority is family, so I’m able to do both for the first time really in the high school profession as well as the college profession. I’m able to have my family be a part of our basketball family and it’s neat. It’s great to be a dad of seven kids and to be able to live the dream so to speak and be a college coach.
Ryan Love is a full-time student at the University of Utah studying communications, and has been a part-time sports reporter and scoreboarder for the Deseret News since Oct. 2012.
Follow him on Twitter @RLove7724