By Nancy Cawley Zugschwert
Christian. Competitive. Courageous. Committed. Those who knew Charles “Chub” Reynolds say these words characterized the man who left an indelible imprint on Northwestern, not only in how he lived his life, but also in the way he faced his death.
Reynolds, on the UNW coaching staff from 1980 to 1990, served as head baseball coach and assistant football coach before being given the job he wanted most: head football coach—a role he held for less than two full seasons. Many still hold vivid memories of Coach Reynolds on the sidelines for what was to be his last game on October 6, 1990: in the electric cart required because he could no longer walk, weary but present, talking to and encouraging his players. He passed away just two days later after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Dave Halstensgard ’78, director of special projects for athletics, recounted, “Chub was a man of hard work. He put everything he had into it. He worked personally with players. He was about the person and about the team and the team winning, but at the end of the day it was the person who mattered to Chub.”
Reynolds was remembered at Homecoming 2010 at an athletics reunion honoring the “Chub Reynolds Legacy.” Athletes who played under this esteemed coach gathered on campus, renewing friendships and recalling what it was like to play for Reynolds—in good times and in bad.
Kirby Scull ’92, who was inducted this year into Northwestern’s Athletics Hall of Recognition, played football during Reynolds’ two seasons as head coach. “He was definitely a unique individual with a lot of character and a lot of charisma,” Scull remembered. “One of the things that sticks out to me was his courage. His situation was so difficult; from that I learned that you praise God even when things are tough. There’s no guarantee it will be easy.”
Three generations of Eagles
The Reynolds family was on hand for the reunion as well: Chub’s wife Barb and sons Russ and Rich ’96 and their families, including Rich’s son Rob, a junior defensive lineman for the Eagles this year. Rob was just a baby when his grandfather passed away, but he is well aware of what it means to bear the name of the man for whom the field he plays on is named. “We get a picture taken by the field every year,” said Rob. “I like the sign that says, ‘Never say die.’”
Himself wired for competition, Rob openly admires how his grandfather managed the tension of the Christian life and the desire to be competitive. “I think a lot of times, especially in a Christian environment, [people think] you can’t be a Christian and be super tough,” Rob said. “My dad has told me stories, and I think he [Chub] was the toughest guy I’ve ever heard about. It’s mental toughness. Because of that he’s built a lot of kids into grown men, just through character growth.”
Chub Reynolds was inducted into the UNW Athletics Hall of Recognition in 1997. On the display honoring recognized athletes, Reynolds is remembered with these words:
“Grit, determination and a never-give-up attitude were the benchmarks of a man who shaped the lives of hundreds. He hated to lose and loved to win. However, more importantly is that he cared about young men. His behavior, intensity for the game, and demeanor were directed toward building boys into men. He demonstrated confidence in his athletes that brought lasting results in their lives. Christ was the focal point of Chub’s life, and he relayed that to his athletes on and off the field.”