On March 17 of last year, Kevin Reeder had an emotional experience watching his Cheshire High School boys’ swim and dive team compete in the State Open final. Reeder had coached the Rams to a great heights in four seasons, but due to a change in his job at ESPN and wanting to spend more time with family, he decided to retire from coaching.
“I didn’t think that I would coach there (CHS) again,” reflected Reeder. “When they hired (my successor) Megan (Severino), I thought that she would be there for a long time.”
In the span of just over a year, an unexpected turn of events brought Reeder back to his old position. After coaching the Rams to a 9-2 season, Severino chose to take a job offer and resigned as coach in late August.
Just days before Severino chose to step down, Reeder decided that he wanted to get back into coaching and reached out to CHS Assistant Coach Kim Christensen and Athletic Director Steve Trifone for letters of recommendations. Upon hearing that the Rams head-coaching position had opened up from swimmers and Christensen, Reeder applied and was officially renamed as head coach on Oct. 3.
“Kim and I are very close and we spoke about it,” said Reeder. “I’m excited to come back to this program.”
“Kevin brings a lot of experience and knowledge about swimming,” added Trifone. “He is already familiar with people on the team.”
With a job change, Reeder felt that he had time to coach again. As a producer, Reeder played a key role on the ESPN show, First Take, but just after the NBA finals in June, he decided to go into producing on SportsCenter.
“I took a night position that runs from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m.,” said Reeder. “When swimming starts, I’ll have people step in for me during practices. I’ll also try to set up Friday meets because I’m off those days.”
While developing a career at ESPN, Reeder has also enjoyed coaching swimming. From 2014 to 2018, he led CHS to a 36-5-1 dual-meet record and three straight Southern Connecticut Conference runner-up finishes.
While retiring last year, Reeder still attended some meets to support the boys from the stands.
“As a coach, I think I’ll always be a part of the swimmers’ and divers’ lives,” said Reeder. “To not be there for them would go against everything I believe in.”
Reeder thinks that his relationships will make for a smooth return to coaching.
“I know almost all of the guys and they know what to expect from me,” Reeder explained.
Like Christensen, Reeder is excited to work with Patty Conte again.
“She is a great diving coach and has a strong record with the girls’ (team), too,” said Reeder.
When coming to CHS in 2014 to succeed Fran Connolly as coach, Reeder inherited a young team. He quickly set goals of going unbeaten and defeating SCC powerhouse Fairfield Prep.
”I said that I wanted us to be able to beat them when I walked into the door,” recalled Reeder.
In just his second season, the Rams accomplished that goal. After the Cheshire Community Pool hadn’t hosted a meet for three years due to issues with the roof, the Rams returned to the facility in 2016 to win 94-87 over the Jesuits on Senior Night. The victory ended a 13-year rivalry drought.
“That was a special night reopening the doors to the pool and beating Fairfield Prep,” said Reeder.
The 2015-16 Rams earned their first SCC regular-season title (11-0) in 14 years. The boys placed runner-up in the conference and Class LL final meets.
“That was a special group of guys,” reflected Reeder.
In returning to coaching, Reeder wants to win SCC titles and compete for state crowns. He feels good about seniors Sam Hanke, Nick Brunetti, and James Bennett becoming captains.
Hanke recently signed with the University of South Carolina.
“I think they (the captains) all have great stories and will lead in different ways,” Reeder said.
CHS graduated eight boys last year, but Reeder believes that the Rams have a nice blend of athletes coming back.
“I think the team has gotten closer every year that I've been around them,” said Reeder.