Coach Reginald Samples is a winner. In six
seasons at Dallas Skyline High School, Samples’ football teams won 19 playoff
games and six straight district titles. Samples has been a head football coach
for 25 years, but he said “coach” is not the primary position he plays on his
team. The most important job for Samples is being a father figure.
Coach Samples does not believe in cutting
players from the team, not because they’re all needed to complete the squad,
but because being a part of the team is necessary to complete them.
“Football offers a lot of experiences that can
be related directly to life. And it’s not all about how many plays you played
or how much you participated,” Samples said. “It’s the ups and downs. It’s the
struggle. It’s the hard work.”
“A lot of the goals and things you need to be
a successful person are offered in football, he said. “And by cutting those
young men I [would have] denied them an opportunity to learn about some things
they need to be better men in life, and I won’t do that.”
Samples also spends time practicing teenage
psychology. During the summer, Coach Samples sent his assistant coaches looking
for a player who had not participated in team conditioning. When the young man
finally showed up, Samples could see he was troubled and did not want to talk.
Samples told the player he intended to stay in the room with him, even if he
missed practice, until the player shared what was going on. It did not take long for the young man to
Samples said there is a reason he can get
through to some kids when others cannot. “When I was an athlete, I was raised
for a long time in a one parent home. A lot of things they’ve gone through I
went through. A lot of things that break
their hearts, I’ve had my heart broken. You learn what to say because you’ve
gone through it,” Samples said. Listening to his players and guiding them in
their decisions, according to Samples, is key to their success on and off the
Samples knows Panthers fans are looking for a
quick resurgence of their football team and he wants to deliver. “Just be
patient and know that we’re dealing with 16-, 17- and 18-year old kids. And
just like the ones they have at home, we never know what they’re going to do.
But in the end, if we do what we’re supposed to do in training them, as
parents, as coaches, as adults, then the results will come,” said Samples.
“We’re going to turn the program around, he
said. “I don’t know when or how fast, but we’re going to get it done because we
have a system in place, and it’s been successful wherever I’ve gone.” Watch Video>