SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A track coach from American River College (ARC) by the name of Michael Reid passed away on Saturday morning, July 16.
He was the Assistant Coach for the men's and women's track and field team at ARC and in 2019, he started as the head coach of the track and field team at Hiram W. Johnson High School.
Coach Reid was diagnosed with stage four throat and lung cancer in January of 2007 and later on in 2022 contracted the coronavirus. He battled these illnesses all while being a coach, and Sacramento's track and field community is grieving over the loss of this passionate and strong man.
"It showed how much passion he had," said Myles Ellis, a student-athlete of Coach Reid's. "He didn't show up just to show up because it's his job or because he had to, he showed up because he loved his job. He loved to coach and he loved his athletes. He loved me, my brother, my friends and he loved his staff."
Coach Reid's love for track started young. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1976 where he ran track and field and played soccer.
In 1981, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a Private First Class. However, later in 1998, Coach Reid came back home and was recruited to help high schools with athletic programs that lacked specialty coaches.
Coach Reid became a coach of his own non-profit organization in 2002 called Athletes Under Construction, Inc. His goal was to provide athletic guidance, conditioning, and training to middle school, high school, and collegiate level student-athletes.
Shortly after, from 2005 to 2006, he was hired to coach track and field for C.K. McClatchy High School and John F. Kennedy High School. Foothill High School, Del Campo High School, and Jesuit High School also had Coach Reid as a staff member, coaching their track and field teams.
Coach Reid then moved to ARC and coached from the fall of 2005 to the very end of his time.
In 2012, he obtained his associate's degree at ARC in kinesiology, all while being a coach, a mentor, a husband to his wife Kimberely, and a father to his kids.
Although he was going through chemotherapy treatments and radiation, Coach Reid never gave up on his student-athletes and he never gave up on himself.
However, many of his student-athletes have mentioned that he was so selfless, he would put everyone else and their health before his.
"You could tell he was battling through his own health issues, but he would make sure that he was there for us as a whole," said Richard Finical, a former student-athlete. "He always cared about everyone else more than himself."
The radiation treatments unfortunately burned Coach Reid's esophagus, making it hard for him to eat and talk. His student-athletes mentioned he had to eat through a feeding tube and during times when he could not speak, he would bring a whistle, a whiteboard, even coach out of his car and text the warmups and workouts to one of the athletes.
"He never once complained," said Finical. "Sometimes it was hard to understand him, and I could tell it would be frustrating for him, but he worked around that and survived his battle with cancer. He was fully committed to his craft and strong like a warrior."
Also, his student-athletes reminisced on all the times Coach Reid would unite his team from team dinners to joking around and just dancing or laughing.
"His genuineness and his ability to bring us all together made him special to me," said Robert Ellis, a former student-athlete. "I have friends that are younger, friends my age, and friends older than me that I've met all from here. He brought everyone together, all the time."
On Monday, July 18, a group of current and former student-athletes gathered at Rio Americano High School's track to "Run a Lap for Coach Reid" and on Friday, July 22, they had a vigil at ARC to remember Coach Reid.
Mike Johnson Jr. saw Coach Reid as one of his brothers, they were close and knew each other for over 10 years. Johnson mentioned that his daughter, who had Coach Reid as her first ever coach, will be running in the Junior Olympics this week, and she's dedicating her run to Coach Reid by writing his name on her shoes.
"Sacramento in general, our track and field community is going to look so different now that he's gone," said Callie Lawson-Freeman, a former student-athlete. "That's what motivated a lot of us, just making him proud because he believes in us so much. I think that you'll see lots of people continue to run in his honor. I'm really excited to watch those people, and I know he's gonna be watching them too so that's going to be really beautiful."
There will be a public viewing for Coach Reid this Wednesday, July 27 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Thompson Rose Chapel in Sacramento. There will also be a public homegoing ceremony this Thursday, July 28 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Progressive Church of God in Christ in Sacramento.
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