REDEEMED: The Scott Reynolds story
By JON KLEINKNECHT
Inquirer Sports Editor
A stout 6’7” tall, Scott Reynolds doesn’t just enter a room … he takes it over.
“I’m hard to miss,” the 1976 graduate of Galion High School laughingly said during an interview last month in the Galion Inquirer office when he returned to his hometown for Connections Weekend.
These days, the mid-50s former prep and college basketball star is not only a giant of a man, he has a heart just as big for those who are down and out.
The fact that he is alive today is a miracle in itself.
But then … Scott Reynolds himself is a miracle.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 1:5–8)
“I started drinking, probably, when I was 17 years old,” he said. “I always had drugs for free. I never had to pay for them, and that was my dirty little secret,” explaining that a relative was a prominent drug dealer in central Ohio. “The alcohol wasn’t a secret, but the drugs were. Most people who knew me in Galion had no idea. When I went off to college, it got worse and worse.”
What began as typical, schoolboy partying where he grew up, quickly turned into full-blown cocaine and alcohol addiction.
Addiction that led to him dropping out of college … twice.
Addiction that was parlayed into the selling and even international smuggling of drugs while he was a member of the United States Marine Corps.
Addiction and drug dealing that resulted in him being arrested, charged and convicted overseas where he was sentenced to serve five years in prison.
“My life was such a mess,” Scott humbly said as he shifted in a chair. “There were times in prison where I sat and wondered how it all got so out of control. It was surreal.”
Things use to be so much better.
As a youth in Tigertown, Scott was what a former teammate described as “fun loving” and “easy going.” Basketball was his game and he was a standout player.
A three-year varsity letterman, Scott was a junior on the winningest team in GHS hoops history, the 1974–75 Tigers. That squad posted an 18–4 record and was the last boys’ basketball team in Galion to win a league championship. All five starters — seniors Jeff Fischer, Bill Fox and Chuck Roser, sophomore Mike Nicholls, and Scott — went on to play collegiately.
Another member of the those Tigers, Glen Noggle, was a sophomore. He, too, played ball in college.
A year later, it was Scott as a senior post player and Nicholls as a junior guard starring on a team that went 10–10. Scott led the Orange-and-Blue in scoring averaging 15.7 points a game, and was the top rebounder in the Northern Ohio League. In NOL play, he had the three highest scoring games of the season. His performance earn-ed him First Team District and First Team NOL honors.
“I had a good senior year, but we didn’t win a lot of games,” said Scott. “Bowling Green (State University) and Middle Tennessee State were interested in me.”
He settled on a scholarship offer to attend Cumberland College in Lebanon, Tennessee.
He wasn’t there for long.
“I hated school,” Scott matter-of-factly stated. “I wanted to go to play basketball. I wasn’t interested in studying.”
While at Cumberland, he was the driver of a car filled with teenagers that ended up in an accident. Scott and several of the youth were hurt. Scott sustained a severe head injury and dropped out of school soon after.
A few months later, tragedy struck again.
Enjoying a Lake Erie fishing trip with three other men from Galion, the boat cap-sized. One of his fishing buddies drowned. Scott and the other two were rescued by the Coast Guard.
“All four of us should have drowned,” he said before going on to describe how a dramatic effort by the Coast Guard saved their lives.
Scott enrolled at the former Mount Vernon Nazarene College. At what is now a university, he was reunited with former GHS teammates Jeff Fischer and Glen Noggle.
“The three of us even started some games together down there,” he said with a smile.
On March 1, 1978, Scott had a record-setting game for the Cougars. His 17 field goals against Grace College remain the school standard nearly 35 years later.
But furthering his education still wasn’t a priority.
After dropping out again, he found himself in trouble because of the demons from his teenage years that still controlled him — alcohol and drugs.
In 1979, he joined the Marine Corps.
The first three years, “I really excelled,” he said. “I wanted to make a career of it. I still drank and did drugs a little bit. That was before the military started drug testing.”
After re-enlisting for another three years. It happened. “It” being Scott was caught transporting drugs.
“We were smuggling drugs to Thailand, Japan, and the Philippines,” he said. “It was easy money and security wasn’t as tight as it is now.”
He continued, “I got caught in 1983 smuggling 500 tabs of LSD from California to Tokyo. I got caught in Tokyo. The guy I bought the LSD from in California got caught and told on me, so they were waiting for me in Tokyo. I was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison,” he added as he drew a breath and looked up toward the ceiling. “So, I went into a Japanese prison system that is not like the American prison system, to say the least. I was given a couple of bowls of rice and a couple of fish heads a day.”
After being released from prison, Scott did what Scott knew how to do best.
“I got drunk,” he mentioned while shaking his head. “Can you believe that?!?!?”
More years of poisoning his body and mind via drinking and drugs followed. “I had some really good jobs, but the drugs and alcohol still chased me around and haunted me.”
His life had bottomed out.
“In 1990, I decided to commit suicide,” he stated. “I carried guns with me wherever I went. For some reason, I ended up at my aunt Alice’s house. I began crying and she started talking to me about God and how much God loved me. I gave her all my guns, my sister [Sarabeth] came and got me from Fort Wayne, Indiana and she took me to a place in Muskegon, Michigan called Teen Challenge.”
“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” (Ezekiel 34:11–12)
Founded in 1958, Teen Challenge is a Christian-based organization that specializes in helping adults and youth who struggle with destructive, life-controlling problems. There are more than 200 residential centers in the United States and internationally — in excess of 1,000.
Documented studies done at Northwestern and Tennessee universities, verify that five years after graduating from the Teen Challenge program, 86 percent of former clients are free of substance abuse, employed and regularly attend church.
Typically, residents — who are admitted voluntarily and referred to as “students” — stay for 13 months. During their stay, they are not only counseled and treated for their problems, they are ministered to regarding their spiritual walk. Many former residents remain or return as volunteers. In some cases, that leads to becoming full-time staff members. Such is the case with Scott.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14)
While a student at Teen Challenge, Scott accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. “I developed a personal relationship with God and my life changed,” he said with a wide smile. “He saved me. Jesus died for my sins, and I am forgiven for all the bad things I’ve done in the past. It’s amazing.”
After his 13 months as a student, Scott said, “I had a car lot and was a partner in a mortgage company. I did volunteer work then.”
But he wanted to do more at Teen Challenge.
“I always hung around because I want to help people who have the kind of problems I did,” he stated.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
In 2004, Scott received credentials and became an ordained minister. He eventually was named the executive director of the Teen Challenge Center in Midland, Texas, and four years ago was a recipient of The Presidential Call to Service award. He was instrumental in the raising of $5.5 million in 3 1/2 years while in The Lone Star State.
“The only way we get money is for people to give us money,” he mentioned.
Currently, he is a senior pastor at Teen Challenge in Lansing, Michigan. There are 20 staff members and all but one are Teen Challenge graduates. Lansing is one of only five pregnancy centers in the country.
Scott spends a lot of time on the road, doing in excess of 100 speaking engagements a year, telling his story and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“This is what I’m called to do,” he softly spoke. “I don’t have a lot of money, but I can’t imagine me doing anything else. God saved me and I want to share what He’s done for me with others because He can do the same for them.”
Sober for nearly 23 years, nonetheless, his body has paid a heavy price for the decades of substance abuse and his overseas imprisonment.
“I caught a virus while in prison in Japan,” Scott said. “I have a pacemaker and lost most of my toes. The virus and the abuse have taken a toll on me. I don’t get around as well as I use to, but God has given me the strength to do what I’m called to do.”
It was mentioned earlier that a former teammate of Scott’s in high school and college described Scott as “fun loving” and easy going.” Jeff Fischer was recently told about Scott’s transformation.
“I remember Scott as we were close friends in high school and a year or two in college due to the fact we played basketball together for several years,” Jeff stated. “Our dads were also close as they worked together at the old Galion Iron Works.
“Scott was always a ‘fun loving’ easy going guy. I remember well his competitive spirit, and he was a key component of our basketball championships (NOL and sectional) in 1974–75. I remember to this day going to McDonalds for lunch after Saturday morning films and walk-throughs with Scott.”
Jeff added, “Our friendship continued on at Mount Vernon Nazarene College we, along with former Galion standout Glen Noggle, played for the Cougars. It was sad to watch Scott, with so much talent and abilities, begin to slowly pull away from his good friends and make other ‘friends.’ It was obvious they were a terrible influence on Scott and his priorities. Scott left school, and I totally lost contact with him at that point.”
But, through the wonder of internet technology, the old friends have become reacquainted.
“… I am so happy and relieved to now find the healthy, loving, caring and God-centered man that Scott has become,” Jeff noted. “He is now giving his life to the Lord, and helping so many people by his life and example. He is such an influencer, and he is doing that now for good. It is awesome to have Scott ‘back.’”
“He who has an ear, let him hear what The Spirit says to the churches … (Revelation 2:11a)
This Sunday, Scott will be ministering at the Galion Community Christian Church located at the corner of State Route 19 and Biddle Road. The service begins at 10:30 a.m. and he hopes for a nice turnout by old friends and acquaintances.
“I’d like people to have my email address and my phone number, too,” he mentioned. “I’d love to hear from some people in Galion.”
Scott — who has a 10-year-old son, Chase — can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His cell phone number is 517–712-9573.