TEUTOPOLIS — Chet Reeder knew when he ventured into the realm of coaching that he would have to make sacrifices.
His family was behind that 100 percent, though.
The 2023 Effingham Daily News Boys Basketball Coach of the Year, Reeder knows he wouldn’t be in the position he is currently in without the loving support from those he holds dearest to his heart — starting with his wife, Jessica.
“I’m blessed to have Jessica at home,” he said. “She’s the ultimate coach’s wife and she gets it. She was a coach herself. She coached cheerleading at Illinois, understands the sacrifices and what it takes to succeed and pushes me. I could not do what I do without her — she’s tremendous.”
What his family allows him to do has led to a lot of joy, too, especially this past season.
The Wooden Shoes reached the state tournament for the first time in 16 years this past March.
Reeder knew his team had the chance to achieve that milestone, though, starting in the summer.
“We knew coming off of an elite eight appearance with three starters and Garrett (Gaddis) coming off the bench, we knew we had four key returners with a lot of experience,” Reeder said. “We loaded up our summer schedule and knew we had a chance to be good, but we also knew we had to get a little bit better from a leadership and defensive standpoint.
“I challenged those guys to step up in those roles, which was the big difference.”
The summer didn’t go unnoticed, either.
Reeder also makes sure of that.
If you follow Reeder on Twitter, he is the busiest during the months away from Teutopolis High School.
Reeder always tweets pictures of his players and the number of shots made.
“Me and my brother [Stote Reeder] came up with that idea of how can we get guys to buy-in to getting better and getting more shots up in the summer,” he said. “It used to be that’s just what you did; you went to the park and shot; that’s what our friend groups did, growing up.”
Reeder added that he and Stote came up with the idea in 2014.
At the time, Reeder had just accepted the head coaching position at Sullivan High School.
“We challenge our guys to make 5,000 shots in the summer and they get more credit if they make 7,500; they get something else if they make 10,000,” Reeder said. “It’s a reward for them, but they see it does benefit them throughout the entire season of putting in that extra time.”
Bouncing ideas off his older brother isn’t uncommon for Chet, though.
Chet said that he and Stote have a very close bond with one another.
“We’ve always been each other’s best friends, biggest fans,” Chet said. “We’re very similar; we’re very competitive. I think it’s beneficial that we’re seven years apart. If we were closer in age, we would have fought a lot more. I bounce a lot of ideas off him first before I do anything. I grew up following his journey, going to all of his games.
“He’s been a big impact on my coaching career.”
Stote is currently the head coach at Nashville High School.
Chet said he wouldn’t know what to expect if he and his older brother ever met in a super-sectional game.
“It would be awful. It really would be,” Chet said. “We used to play each other, but we ended it as soon as possible because it was so hard on both of us. If it ever happened on that stage, it would be terrible because one of us isn’t going to state in that scenario.”
For Stote, he was one year too late from coaching against his brother.
Nashville defeated Teutopolis in the super-sectionals in 2022 at Southern Illinois University’s Banterra Center.
Not being involved in the game this past year didn’t keep Stote too far away, though.
Stote was in attendance to witness his brother lead the Wooden Shoes back to the state tournament.
A game that still gives Chet goosebumps.
“I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Every once in a while, a memory will pop up, or even one of our girls will say something about that gym in Carbondale,” Chet said. “The thing that I will always remember is that fourth quarter when we only scored two points; every dead ball, every timeout, our captains kept saying, ‘We’re OK, we just got to get a stop.’ It was constant, positive talk.”
While there were a lot of positives from the season, there wasn’t a lot once the calendar flipped from 2022 to 2023.
Teutopolis had a rocky start to the January slate, losing to the likes of Madison and St. Joseph-Ogden on the road.
“January is always the hardest month of the basketball season,” Reeder said. There are no breaks and then our January was loaded up with a lot of really good teams and we struggled during that time.”
Having a senior-laden group helped with that, though.
“They understand the ebbs and flows of a season,” Chet said. “They understand you’ll probably not go 35-0; you’ll take your lumps. They understand what it takes to get through that and play three games in a week and they prepare those younger guys as they come up. So, to have the voice — that steady and strong voice in the locker room — is a big difference. They don’t get too down; they don’t get too high. They understand you’re going to have some bumps in the road throughout the season, but the goal is are we playing our best in February.”
In this instance, Chet was right on the money, as the Wooden Shoes did play their best basketball in February.
But they played it in March, too, and now have a large wooden trophy to back it up.
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