Wayne Reese, Sr. to be Inducted into Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
NEW ORLEANS – Wayne Reese, one of the most influential high school football coaches in the region, has been selected for induction into the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2023. FULL STORY BELOW.
Reese is one of four standout local sports figures who will be added to the Hall of Fame this year. Each year’s Hall of Fame class is selected by the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, a group of current and former media members who annually recognize a variety of annual award-winners, as well as the Hall of Fame, the Corbett Awards and the Eddie Robinson Award. The group also selects the Greater New Orleans Amateur Athlete of the Month each month.
Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, Class of 2023
By Bill Bumgarner of the Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee
On August 6 of 2011, the late Wayne Reese found himself occupying a seat in Canton, Ohio, for the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies.
His thoughts that day had to harken back to the opening of classes at Carver High School in 1988. On what proved to be a memorable afternoon, Reese and his football staff fanned out across campus, stalking the hallways in search of quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. If an individual appeared promising physically, he was asked to attend practice that afternoon.
Later on, when those players were dismissed after a series of agility drills, the Rams’ coaches gathered together in a circle, just smiling at one another. Then, as if on cue, they burst into a celebration, exchanging hugs, high-fives and handshakes.
“That’s exactly how it happened,” recalled former Carver assistant coach Eddie Flint.
After just one ordinary practice session, the staff knew it had uncovered a gem.
His name was Marshall Faulk. As a senior he would play quarterback, tight end, receiver, cornerback and even kicker, but it was running back where Faulk was destined to become a legend. In his final two seasons at Carver, he rushed for 1,800 yards and scored 32 touchdowns. Faulk went on to become one of the most productive running backs in NCAA and NFL history – he was inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 2011, one week before the aforementioned August 6, 2011, visit to Canton, Ohio, where he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with his proud high school coach in attendance.
Reese now joins Faulk in the New Orleans Hall of Fame posthumously. He passed away April 2, 2020, at the age of 74.
Reese’s Hall of Fame credentials include a lengthy 41-year high school coaching career, mostly at Orleans Parish schools where he compiled a record of 255-187. In addition to Carver, Reese also coached at McDonogh 35 and Booker T. Washington, as well as a two-year stint at Washington-Marion in Lake Charles.
Off the field, Reese came across as a personable, likable individual, always with a smile. But on the field during a game or at practice, he was a demanding sort, as tough as boot leather.
“The No. 1 thing with Wayne was discipline,” said Flint. “You had better not talk back to him.
“But I grew to love Coach Reese more and more every day as a man and as a coach,” said Flint. “When my wife was sick, he gave her a lot of attention, along with everything else she needed and that including monetary help. And it was nothing for Wayne to help kids’ families financially too.”
During an interview with Coach Reese one summer after Faulk had retired, he was asked why he opted to play home games on Saturday when he competed with college football instead of scheduling the traditional Friday night slot which drew more fans and made for a larger gate.
“Well,” he said. “If I play on Friday night, I can only buy the kids one meal. If we play on Saturday, I can buy them two.”
Reese also showed a penchant for filling out his schedule with an ample number of heavyweights instead of soft touches.
“He believed in playing tough guys,” said Flint. For example, during his two years in Lake Charles, Reese kept perennial power John Curtis on his non-district schedule.
“Coach Reese and I worked many, many clinics together and we played many times,” said coach J.T. Curtis. “He was a class act who had his priorities straight. The kids always came first. Our profession needs more men like Wayne Reese.”
Faulk is one of five Reese-coached players to reach the NFL, joining Tyrone Jones (Carver), Chris Clark (McDonogh 35), Nate Livings (Washington-Marion) and Calvin Magee (Booker T. Washington). Faulk is also one of only five players from the Greater New Orleans area to be selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In addition, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame after a legendary career at San Diego State.
“The biggest thing to me is that I love to see kids grow up and see them come from nowhere and be somebody,” Reese said after being honored with the Sugar Bowl’s Eddie Robinson Award in 2011. “That’s the reason that I haven’t gone from high school to college. I can make a bigger difference here. I don’t think I had a lot to offer to the college kid. By the time they get there, they have what they need.
“ High school kids are in limbo. You can help turn their lives around, turn them in the right direction and help them succeed. That’s why I do this. It is what motivates me. I love to see kids succeed.
“Chris Clark was at the rock bottom. So was Marshall. They didn’t know where their next meal was coming from. They got their heads on straight. The rest is history. That’s the reward.
“I love these kids. I love working with them. We have a whole lot of kids who have done well and give back to their communities. It helps our program. They usually give back to us. That is humbling. It will really keep you going. God has really blessed me with good kids.”
A New Orleans native, Reese was a standout running back at Xavier Prep in the mid-1960s and played at Tennessee State and in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams before an injury cut short his pro career after just one season.
Faulk gives Reese and his staff a shout-out for assisting him with showcasing his all-around athletic skills at Carver.
“When I came to Carver from NORD playgrounds, my speed was about 4.3 (for 40 yards),” Faulk said. “If I had played just running back, I think I could have been All-State.
“But while I was at Carver my senior year, I never left the field. I played every position on offense except line and every position on defense except line. Also played on special teams and even held for PATs.”
Faulk still has a special place in his heart for his high school head coach and staff.
“I grew up after losing my father,” Faulk said, “Coach Reese was a strong role model for me. Everyone who knew him regarded him as that type of model.
“Coach Reese taught us how to live our lives the right way.”
Wayne Reese – the man and the coach – did just that.
Overall, 24 individuals and three teams will be honored this year for their achievements at the Committee’s annual awards banquet on Saturday, August 5. Honorees are currently being announced over a two-week period, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for the top male and female amateur athletes in the state on tomorrow (Friday, July 28).
Corbett Award – Female: July 28 (Friday)
Corbett Award – Male: July 28 (Friday)
The Greater New Orleans Sports Awards Committee came together when James Collins spearheaded a group of sports journalists to form a sports awards committee to immortalize local sports history. For 13 years, the committee honored local athletes each month and a variety of annual award winners. In 1970, the Sugar Bowl stepped in to sponsor and revitalize the committee, leading to the creation of the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame in 1971, honoring 10 legends from the Crescent City in its first induction class. While adding the responsibility of selecting Hall of Famers, the committee has continued to recognize the top amateur athlete in the Greater New Orleans area each month as well as a range of annual awards – the honors enter their 67th year in 2023.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 28 national champions, 102 Hall of Fame players, 52 Hall of Fame coaches and 21 Heisman Trophy winners in its 89-year history. The 90th Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, which will double as a College Football Playoff Semifinal, is scheduled to be played on January 1, 2024. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards, scholarships and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors thousands of student-athletes each year, while injecting nearly $2.4 billion into the local economy in the last decade. For more information, visit www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.
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