West Side Stories: Steven Reynolds, 'The First Half'

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The gym was empty, but Coach Steven Reynolds filled it with stories in no time.

Reynolds has lived in South Bend his whole life, all but six years. And he's been here "on purpose."

"I get it, I've heard the stories." But Reynolds has many of his own. 

Steve and his wife Marcy

Steve met his wife of 21 years, Marcy, at college in Oregon. He went on to play basketball for Western Michigan and played overseas for two years.

Reynolds knew he needed to return to his hometown, and that's where he and his wife would "serve" together and grow their family. His family has roots here. His father Steven Reynolds Sr. worked for Bendix, and his mother, Patricia Reynolds, worked for the South Bend Tribune.

His first immersion as an adult into west side culture was 12 years ago. He was 30 years old and looking for something different with his family. His daughters Mila, Amiyah and Kira were introduced to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

Anything Coach Moe Scott hosted at the King Center the Reynolds family was there for. That is where Reynolds' kids started to fall in love with basketball, thanks to the influence of Scott's stepdaughter, Skylar Diggins.

Former NBA player Grant Gondrezick would also use the King Center. Not only did he raise his kids to be professional and D-1 basketball players, but he had young kids doing things in the gym that Reynolds had never seen before. So, they got connected with him, and were welcomed with open arms.

"That six to eight months that they were using that gym really changed the trajectory of just everything. Like what we thought about training kids, and what this eventually became."

At this same time, Steve and his wife Marcy were starting a church on the west side.

The first thing they did was create a faith-based after school program called Safe Haven. They would host 15-20 kids daily for three hours. They fed them, helped them with their homework, played some kind of sport, then had a bible study.

"These kids to this day tell me that that was the best time of their lives. My wife and I did this on a shoestring budget, we got a grant from Mayor Luecke at the time, and we just poured into those kids."

These kids ended up going to schools on the west side. Some of them are doctors now.

"My wife and I, and all of our kids, we did the ministry together. I had a real heart for youth."

Steve and Marcy's heart for youth runs deep within their family as well. They have seven children together.

Reynolds Family, 2015 - Steve and Marcy with their kids Steven III, Amiyah, Mila, Kira, Jordan, Aubrey and Tristan

Reynolds became a youth pastor and minister and would always conduct his outreach on the west side of town, where his heart was. The new Belleville Apartments were his target.

Steve and Marcy started Hello Belleville in 2014, which was an introduction to God and their mission.

Reynolds with kids at Hello Belleville

"My wife and I would take the van and pick up kids all over the city…we were at capacity. 65-70 kids.…we just loved on them. We took them home, we fed them, they stayed at our house. We just made a huge investment to the west side through Safe Haven, through Hello Belleville, through basketball camps."

The kids they invested so much in, still keep in touch. They invite Steve to their games and their weddings. Some have their own kids going to school now, and their kids say hello to the man their parents once grew up with.

Ministry work has had an immense impact on his own kids.

"The other day I asked Steven III (his son) 'What people group do you have a heart for?' He said, 'Probably the homeless. I'll never forget you brought that homeless guy home from church…that marked me like you wouldn't believe. I think about him all the time.'"

When Steven III was eight, his dad brought a homeless man home who was crying in church. He talked with him, fed him, cut his hair, got him clean clothes and a shower, and Steven III stayed with them both through the whole process.

He was typically out playing basketball or video games. But for those few hours, he was transfixed.

"And now, it gives me chills just thinking about it. That's what he (Steven III) wants to do when he becomes a pro. He wants to reach out to the homeless."

After 10 years of serving the church and community, Reynolds wanted to make an investment in Washington High School, as he felt like that was the hub of the west side.

The "Second Half" to Reynolds' story will be released August 16.

Reynolds playing for Western Michigan Amiyah, Mila and Kira with Grant Gondrezick

"Grant was one of the best trainers I've ever been in the gym with. Made a significant investment into our family and a lot of aspiring athletes on the west side and in the city. Miss him." - Steve Reynolds

Hello Belleville Hello Belleville Steve and Marcy's daughter with flyer Hello Belleville Hello Belleville Reynolds conducting a baptism Reynolds Family Reynolds kids

Share this article: