Thursday, May 13, 2021

Sports

Reynolds Makes His Mark While Following in Family Footsteps

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Senior captain guard Ian Reynolds finished off a quality career with the East Haven boys’ basketball team by garnering All-East Division accolades for the Yellowjackets this season. Photo courtesy of Ian Reynolds

Senior captain guard Ian Reynolds finished off a quality career with the East Haven boys’ basketball team by garnering All-East Division accolades for the Yellowjackets this season. (Photo courtesy of Ian Reynolds )

Ian Reynolds grew up in a basketball household and, when it was his turn to hit the court, he took the ball and ran with it. Ian went on to have a solid career for the East Haven boys’ basketball team, capping off his run by earning All-SCC accolades as a senior captain this winter.

Ian’s father Jim has been a basketball coach for more than 20 years, spending 14 seasons as the head coach of the Wilbur Cross boys’ basketball squad, one year at Guilford, and five seasons at East Haven. He’s currently an assistant coach at Hamden Hall. Ian enjoyed watching his father coach basketball and became enamored with the sport by attending his dad’s practices.

“I was in the gym for all of his practices. I’ve been since as young as I can. It’s amazing. There’s never not a game on in our house. He has taught me everything I know about the game and more,” Ian says of his father. “Whenever I play, he’s always watching me and telling me how I can improve my game and get better.”

Ian started playing basketball at age three and has competed for several organizations throughout his career. Ian played for East Haven’s rec and travel teams through 8th grade, in addition to playing for three years at Joseph Melillo Middle School. During his 6th-grade season, Ian joined the AAU circuit. Ian’s passion for basketball really took off as he played the sport during his middle school years.

“At first, I was a better baseball player. Around middle school, I really started to enjoy basketball a lot more. I started really working on my game a lot more,” says Ian. “Ever since then, I’ve always wanted to play basketball. I want to be a future coach one day. Watching and playing, I love it, and I hope to do a lot more of it.”

Ian, a guard, began his first season at East Haven playing for the freshman and JV teams, but finished the year as a member of the varsity squad. Ian was nervous prior to getting his first varsity start. However, as he continued through his freshman campaign, Ian started to gain confidence that helped him going forward.

“It helped tremendously. Sophomore year, when I was playing against similar teams, it really helped getting that experience right off the shoot,” Ian says. “I was able to go into summer ball that year and the fall league, and all of that helped. Eventually, I was able to transition and feel more comfortable.”

Ian continued starting for the Yellowjackets through the end of his senior season. Every year, he worked as hard as possible to become the best basketball player he could be. Ian had seen how hard his brother Conor, a 2016 East Haven graduate, worked during the offseason as a member of the Easties. Ian wanted to emulate his brother’s work ethic.

“My brother Conor set the example for me. I would see him when I was in 5th, 6th grade, and he was a junior and senior in high school. He would be working out three, four hours a day over the summer,” says Ian. “Ever since then, I’ve tried to work hard during the offseason. I try to improve work on my moves and just try and get better.”

Ian recently finished his senior year with East Haven. After the team won just four games last season, Ian helped the Yellowjackets go 9-5 and advance to the SCC Division II championship game this year. For his efforts, Ian was named to the All-SCC East Division Team alongside fellow senior captain Nick Furino. Ian says that he improved as a defender during his four years with the Easties, while also becoming more of a scorer, instead of just a shooter.

“Freshman year, the only thing I ever tried to do was shoot. I worked real hard on my game during the offseason. I tried to get stronger and become a better defender,” Ian says. “This year, I was a much better on-ball defender, rebounding and diving on the floor. I wasn’t as tough my freshman year. This year, I think I did a good job. This year, it all clicked, and I felt more confident in my ability to score.”

Ricky Narracci was Ian’s head coach at East Haven for the past four seasons. Narracci said that Ian was an easy person to work with and always took advice in order to improve every facet of his game.

“I enjoyed coaching Ian as much as any player I’ve ever coached. He got the most out of his ability,” says Narracci. “Every year, he improved and added something to his game. Whatever we asked him to work on for the following season, he did that and then some. He came in as someone who could shoot when open. By this year, he was a complete player. He has certainly helped us win games.”

Ian says that playing numerous sports helped him get to the level he wants to be as an athlete. Ian also played football and baseball as he grew up in East Haven. At the high school, Ian served as a senior captain for the boys’ cross country squad last fall and will be holding that same role with the golf team, which is also coached by Narracci, this spring.

“It’s amazing. A lot of times people look at the skill you have, but I think if you’re able to be a captain, your teammates are able to see what you’re doing,” Ian says. “You just have to set a good example. If you’re able to do that, the team will follow right beside you. Everything kind of takes its course.”

When he graduates from East Haven, Ian plans on attending Emmanuel College in Boston, where he will pursue a degree in finance. Ian also plans on trying out for the school’s basketball team.

As the son of a coach, Ian wants to try his own hand at coaching basketball one day. Between watching the sport and playing it, Ian says that basketball has helped shape the framework of his entire life.

“It means everything, I worked real hard at it since I was really young,” says Ian. “I’m always watching basketball and will hopefully be a future coach one day. Being a basketball player means everything to me.”


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