Selfless, sophisticated and sympathetic; these often aren’t the adjectives used to describe the average teenager. But rising Santa Clara High School senior Bryan Reyes is anything but average. The 17-year-old has been an Assistant Coach at Briarwood Little League since he was 13.
In five seasons coaching at Briarwood, Reyes has not once seen his team fail to win the league championship. During his first season Reyes helped coach the minor division Yankees under a pair of more “traditionally-aged” dad coaches in Emmitt Palacios and Arnold Aldor. The following year Reyes moved up with Palacios and Aldor to coach in the majors, as their sons Andrew Palacios and Justin Aldor moved up to the majors. The next two years saw the Palacios and Aldor-led Pirate teams win league titles. When Assistant Coach Jermaine Mitchell took over as manager the following season, Reyes stayed on as an Assistant Coach. The Pirates would win the championship again. When Assistant Coach Carlos Escobedo took over as manager this most recent spring, Reyes again stayed on as an Assistant Coach. And the Pirates would again win the championship.
Secret Life of the American Teeanger? More like the secret teenage weapon.
“Every team he coaches wins it for Briarwood, five years in a row now,” noted Emmitt Palacios on his coaching protege. “There’s so many good things to say about Bryan Reyes. He could have gone to Wilcox to play football, but he didn’t go to Wilcox, he went to Santa Clara because of the STEM program. Just shows the kind of person he is. He’s incredibly mature for his young age. I don’t know one person who doesn’t like him, he’s that type of a kid. He’s my son’s role model.”
“I can’t say enough about what his value was to our team,” echoed Mitchell. “It’s hard to come up with the words, but he’s a special kid. You would think he’s a lot older than he is, he’s been so great for those Briarwood teams. He’s focusing on his school work and yet taking the time to come out to coach these kids, he’s on top of everything. He deserves recognition.”
“He was already on the Pirates before I even got there and everyone has always called him the brains behind the Pirates,” chuckled Escobedo. “Reyes has been great for us, been a role model for all the other kids, super positive guy and really carries himself as if he were older. When I first met him, I really thought he was out of high school already, but come to find out he was only a sophomore. That really blew my mind. He’s a great kid, I can’t really say enough about him.”
After getting his feet wet as a coach in his early teens, Reyes had an opportunity to keep playing in high school as a freshman at Santa Clara. At that point though, the then 14-year-old preferred to stick with coaching.
“I was just so into going back to coaching Little League,” said Reyes. “I mean I had continued playing that first year after Little League, I might not have gotten into coaching. Looking back I don’t think I would trade it because I really like coaching.”
Along with coaching and school, Reyes is also working part time at a local coffee shop. He’s hoping to go to Santa Clara University to study political science after he graduates from Santa Clara High. While he says he’s interested in a law degree, he also wouldn’t rule out continuing to coach and perhaps go into teaching.
“A lot of people have told me that I would be a good teacher and I have definitely thought about it, but I wanna go to Santa Clara to study political science and get a law degree,” said Reyes. “That said, things change, if I want to be a teacher, definitely would teach history, I love history.”
The history of how Reyes first started coaching at 13 is rather simple happenstance. Palacios, who had coached Reyes over with the Santa Clara Lions Pop Warner, saw Reyes walking home from school and asked him if he wanted to stick around for the rest of the Yankees practice, which was their last practice before the first game of the season. Reyes, being at the right place at the right time, kick-started one of the youngest coaching careers in the history of sports.
“We were at Cabrillo, Reyes was walking home from school and Coach Emmitt, having known him from the Lions, just asked him what he was doing and if he wanted to stick around and help us out with practices” recalled Arnold Aldor. “Some of the kids on the team knew Reyes from the Lions as well and so that’s how it all started. He helped us out with that first practice, we won that first game over the Angels and ever since then the kids were clamoring to have Reyes at practice.”
In addition to striking bonds with the kids, Reyes has played various roles in aiding his head coaches. Sometimes that’s meant throwing batting practice, but other times it has been as the go-to, rule-book guru.
“Most [head] coaches have to do multiple things, but with Reyes on board, I can just focus on dialing up plays or what not,” added Mitchell on Reyes’ value to the staff. “He takes care of the rules and lets me know when I should think about challenging things, he’d be like ‘this rule here, the other team isn’t allowed to do this.’”
“He’s going to do a lot of great things as he gets older,” added Escobedo. “A lot of these kids are going to look back and really appreciate what he’s done for them. Right now, they might not realize it, but once they get older they are going to realize that Reyes was a big part of what they’ve become.”