Mike Reynolds knew in his heart that he would always love Galesburg basketball. He also knew it was going to take something that blew him away to make him leave.
After 11 seasons as the boys' coach of the Silver Streaks, Reynolds got blown away.
On Tuesday, DeKalb High School officially named Reynolds as its basketball coach and dean of students.
"I'm ready and it's exciting," Reynolds said. "It is hard to leave something you have put 11 years into but it was time for a change. As a coach, I believe you are always looking for the next challenge.
"This came together in late June and early July. We knew it was going to be something that would blow me away to get me to leave and the DeKalb people did that."
As he came to the decision — one he said was equally about basketball and his family — Reynolds felt a lot of emotions the past few weeks.
"It was an emotional time trying to say goodbye to everyone, especially the players coming back this coming season," he said. "The people in Galesburg made this a special place, just as the people in DeKalb have shown me they want to make this a special place."
Reynolds turned a struggling Galesburg program around when he took charge in 2008. The Streaks had won just 35 games over the previous five seasons. In Reynolds' 11 years, Galesburg won 218 times.
"I would not have taken the job at Galesburg if I didn't believe I could turn it around," Reynolds said. "At the same time, I was young and dumb so what else was I going to think."
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Reynolds is holding out hope for his assistant Ryan Hart to replace him as the next Streaks coach.
For now, Reynolds is ready for his next challenge. He comes to a school that has went 83-37 over the past four seasons under Al Biancalana, who left to take an administration post in the Chicago suburbs.
DeKalb also has tremendous facilities.
"Yes, the facilities are great but I would be short-sighted to say I was taking a job for that reason," Reynolds said. "We took this job because of the people and their vision for the program. They made us feel like this is something we want to be a part of.
"That is what made Galesburg so special. It is sad to leave Galesburg but we are extremely excited to begin this new chapter for our family and for my basketball future."
With a strong program already in place, including a very solid summer season, Reynolds is set now to build his own culture.
"That's something you can't do overnight," he said. "We know they have a lot of good things going, including one of the best Christmas-time holiday tournaments in the state.
"In building my culture the key thing is that I remember to be myself. As for the basketball itself, anyone who knows me knows my teams will play defense, play physical and be tough. It starts right there. Sometimes it is not the most popular way to play but that's how we will do it."