Despite no longer playing, one Tempe resident is still scoring goals

Blake Reynolds has focused his post-playing days on helping young female athletes achieve their athletic goals through scholarships after catching the attention of college recruiters.

In this case, Morgan Fiedler has committed to McNeese State University, a D1 program in Louisiana.

As the high school women’s soccer season peaks, girls from every school in the East Valley are clamoring for an opportunity to play the sport they love at a higher level. A South Tempe resident works with these girls to make her dream come true.

A 16-year-old former college player and coach, Blake Reynolds grew up in Seattle and began his football career at Cal State San Bernardino in California, followed by Baker University in Kansas. After playing, he began as an assistant coach for South Dakota State and Baker before eventually holding head coaching positions at Midland University, Kansas Wesleyan University, and Fort Hays State University in the Midwest.

Before becoming a coach, Reynolds studied psychology in college, where he began working as a counselor for troubled youth in Kansas. While he loved consulting, Reynolds said his true passion is coaching.

Shortly after he came to this realization, his coaching career took off.

Reynolds later reached a period of transition where he wanted to move away from full-time coaching to settle down with a family while remaining connected to the sport he grew up with — and loved. He heard from a colleague about Sports Recruiting USA, a company that works with both male and female athletes.

However, it was working with female athletes that turned out to be his favorite audience.

“I was raised by a single mom,” Reynolds said. “I’ve always had more of that compassion and[ideas]that she instilled in me.” Basically though, “I’ve always cared deeply about people.”

Sports Recruiting USA pairs high school athletes with recruiters like him who have experience in playing and/or coaching to give high school female athletes a unique advantage during the daunting process.

As girls progress through high school, he says, players will push for their athletic and academic excellence to be nurtured.

“We help families navigate the process, preferably sophomores, juniors and seniors,” Reynolds said, adding that the company doesn’t typically hire freshmen at this point because they don’t have experience at that level.

“By the junior year (the players) can start talking to coaches. We help families come up with a plan for recruiting, and then we record how to get things right — the process, all the information, and how to talk to college coaches.”

Preparing young athletes to shine with confidence is an important key to finding a good fit after high school, says Reynolds.

However, not all children have the same needs.

“Some kids don’t need it because they’re all-stars, right? The kid who can play at ASU might not need as much help recruiting. But what about the other children?”

Each athlete’s goal is considered when recruiters attempt to promote their athlete. The process begins with an initial assessment where the athlete is personally observed playing to get a feel for their game.

The next step is to decide which college program is an ideal fit for that athlete, and then discuss what their needs and desires are, not just for an athletic program, but academically and socially as well.

He described the process as a funnel that narrows down choices until a match is found.

Reynolds is currently working with nine seniors, three of whom will go to Division I; four at Division II; one to Division III; and one to NAIA, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Five of his nine seniors are now committed.

According to Blake, working through the intricate details ensures he can put his athletes into the best possible program for the best chance of success.

And doing that, he says, and not just helping introduce families and athletes to the collegiate sports world has made his job both fun and rewarding.

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