From novice to dynasty: Snow volleyball coach weighs in on program’s sharp rise

Kyle Parry / Messenger Photo
Snow College volleyball coach Jeff Reynolds with his award as the NJCAA Region 18 co-coach of the year.

EPHRAIM—Snow College volleyball coach Jeff Reynolds had one year of coaching experience—in high school—when he was hired to lead the Badgers on Feb. 1, 2016.

Since then, he has won three conference championships in four seasons and finished ranked eighth nationally or higher in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I rankings in each of his five seasons with Snow.

Meanwhile, going into the NJCAA Div. I national tournament, he compiled a record of 128-27 (.826) over the past five seasons, ranking fifth among all NJCAA Div. I schools for the highest winning percentage over that time.

Reynolds spoke with the Sanpete Messenger about Snow Athletic Director Robert Nielson rolling the dice on him.

“He took a chance on a guy who had been the volleyball coach at Gunnison Valley High School for one year. That doesn’t escape me,” Reynolds said. “I know that he took a chance and what I think about often is to put Snow College in the best light.”

Part of the reason why Reynolds has made it work is because he is “pretty competitive by nature, for one thing,” he said. That led him to spend his first spring in Ephraim watching a lot of film of a lot of teams in the Badgers’ region and “just getting a feel for the competition and just trying to come up with processes to ensure that we could be successful.”

Then, it took gathering “the right people” around him, Reynolds said.

“That included coaches, players, stuff like that,” he said.

Nielson said Reynolds has been “wise in picking some good assistants that I think they have some of the technical [knowledge], probably, that maybe he didn’t have, and some of the Xs and Os. So he’s smart enough to realize that he’s brought in some really good assistants that have helped him with those Xs and Os.”

 “We’re not good at everything, nobody is. And so, if you recognize what you are good at and you bring in your assistants and have them help you with the areas you’re not strong in, that’s really good coaching and that is what he’s done,” Nielson said. “The things he’s good at, he does and the things he might need help with, he’s gone out and has been able to find assistants … that kind of fill the small gaps that he has.”

And perhaps also, from what Reynolds has learned, “it has to do with the way you treat people,” he said.

Kyle Parry / Messenger Photo
Snow College volleyball coach Jeff Reynolds smiles while interacting with some of his players.

“I decided I didn’t want to be that coach that used people as objects,” Reynolds said. “Because people are people and not objects.”

Saying that “coaching’s a lot of things,” Nielson said that Reynolds excels in doing the most important thing in coaching: understanding people.

“Jeff does a great job of dealing with people and he’s a very relationship-oriented person and that’s worked really well for him to develop teams,” Nielson said.

Further, Reynolds has been able to go out and recruit great players, Nielson said.

“Then [Reynolds’] style is such that he’s able to build that into a team that really works together and helps each other,” Nielson said.

“The experience of volleyball in coaching, I think sometimes, the Xs and Os are a little bit overrated,” Nielson said.

In fact, when Reynolds got to GVHS, he complied a “playbook of philosophies rather than Xs and Os and how to treat people and help others reach their potential,” he said.

Reynolds has been able to “develop a program that was comfortable for him,” Nielson said.

A lot of why Reynolds loves coaching has to do with “relationships,” he said.

Reynolds has developed values at Snow: faith, family, service, integrity, humility, academic and competitive excellence and grit. “A culture develops from the values as practiced,” Reynolds said.

At GVHS, Reynolds got to do something he’d always wanted to do: coach. When he was working in sports information at Brigham Young University, he thought, “I can do this.”

Once his turn arrived, “It felt good; it felt right,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds got into volleyball first with Western Kentucky and then Utah State’s teams before doing volleyball stats for the Sun Belt and Mid-Continent conferences. Then he got to work with BYU’s volleyball team.

“I said, ‘I love this game,’” Reynolds said. “I always looked forward to spring so I could get into the gym and hang out with the volleyball guys.”

Though he’s worked in support roles most of his career, Reynolds pointed out mentors, primarily coaches, from whom he has learned.

That includes Western Kentucky volleyball coach Travis Hudson; Western Kentucky Sports Information Director Paul Just; BYU men’s volleyball coaches Carl McGown and Tom Peterson; BYU assistant men’s volleyball coach Hugh McCutcheon, who later coached the national men’s and women’s teams and is the head women’s volleyball coach at the University of Minnesota; Craig Poole, the former women’s track and field coach at BYU; Mark Robison, the BYU men’s track coach; and former BYU football coaches Bronco Mendenhall and LaVell Edwards.

“Tremendous human beings,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds has most recently been a business teacher at GVHS, besides being the volleyball coach; a corporate trainer in Salt Lake for a national trucking company; a principal and athletic director of American Leadership Academy in Spanish Fork; and the director of communications at Sutherland Institute, a conservative think tank. Reynolds said he was political, but not so much after working there.

“After seeing what politics is all about, yeah, not so much,” he said.

Reynolds grew up in Castle Rock, Wash., a little town near the base of Mt. St. Helens. Reynolds worked in the timber industry, working alongside his dad in summers at a mill, saving money for college.

“The community was a hard-working, blue-collar community,” Reynolds said. “Nicest people in the world and just small-town life; Friday night lights.”

Reynolds drove either a 1976 Honda Civic or a 1968 Ford pickup to school every day. He became an Eagle Scout at 16 years old and served a LDS Mission to Perth, Australia. He then attended then-Ricks College, where he earned a degree in psychology (which has come in handy for coaching, Reynolds said).

Reynolds met his wife, the former Char’Ree Brockbank, at the first dance of the school year.

“That’s where I started my recruiting; I knew I was a good recruiter,” he said. “Outkicked my coverage.”

Reynolds and Char’Ree were married in 1990. Today, they have six kids and four grandkids.

Reynolds is one final away from earning a master’s degree in sports administration from Arkansas State University.