"They got no choice," says Harry Sr.
This father's first principle was Keep 'Em Busy: "I believed in educational games. Butch was a chess player in grade school tournaments. He golfed, bowled and played basketball and football. Running was to stay in shape for basketball. What he did in track was a complete surprise to me."
Butch's mother has spent her working life as a child-care worker at the Summit County Children's Home in Akron. Butch and Jeff, therefore, became athletes and gentlemen.
Butch's parents were separated when he was 16 and a student at Archbishop Hoban High School, where he played good basketball—"Not quite as good as I did," says his dad. "But I'm a cocky father"—ran the sprints and long-jumped. He played football only his senior year. On a 1-9 team, missing three weeks with a sprained ankle, he played both ways, caught 23 passes for a 20.1-yard average, made 31 tackles and two interceptions. His football coach, Clemens Caraboolad, recalls him always turning up in his office to ask what more he could do to help his struggling team.
"I couldn't persuade one college coach to consider Harry for a football career," laments Caraboolad. "They didn't like the way he caught the ball. I said he'd only played one season. Teach him. A couple of coaches even told me he wasn't fast enough. What idiots." In his senior year, Reynolds ran 10.4, 21.5 and 48.1 in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and long-jumped 23 feet.
Reynolds is 6'3" and 175, with a stride that appears so long and effortless that he doesn't seem the rocket he is, until you look down at your watch. He was favored to win all four events in the Ohio high school championships in 1983; but in the regional meet a week earlier heavy rain turned the long-jump pit to stone. Reynolds was the first jumper.
"The sand just didn't give," he says, "but my knee sure did. I did an instinctive flip which probably kept me from ligament damage." Still, the strain was so severe that his season was finished, and Reynolds was heartbroken.
"My track coach said, 'This is for a reason,' " he remembers. " 'There is something better out there for you.' "
But not before there was worse. For all his energy and interests, Reynolds was not a hardworking student. "We insisted that school be as much a part of the formula as sports," says Catherine, "but he was too casual about it. He seemed 'lack-a-daisy.' "
As in rhymes with lazy. His cumulative GPA at Hoban was a door-slamming 1.96.