After nearly 80 days, Indian Lake native Tim Reynolds has just gotten out of the NBA’s Disney World bubble after chronicling the playoffs and the lives of NBA superstars and their quest for a championship during a pandemic for the Associated Press.
But over the last three decades, the former Post-Star sportswriter has also covered nine Olympic games, starting in Salt Lake City.
He’s attended and written about eight World Series, Super Bowls (where he saw Prince sing “Purple Rain” in the rain) and one Stanley Cup Final.
He is a frequent guest on sports podcasts and radio and TV sports shows and has nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, which he humbly says is nothing compared to most people.
Oh, he also got bit on the shoulder by Shaquille O’Neil when he reached in front of him with his recorder to interview Dwayne Wade.
But in addition to chatting daily with NBA superstars, he has met presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and interviewed Donald Trump before he became president. He also chatted with nervous members of Santana and Metallica before national anthem performances and has traveled the world, writing about sports.
Not bad for a kid from an Adirondack town of fewer than 2,000 people, though he repeatedly deflected any praise during a 90-minute interview, saying he’s simply been lucky to be in the right place at the right time.
“LeBron just won the championship, I didn’t. I just write about it,” he said.
And he said he owes it all to his roots and mentors in Indian Lake, and to former Post-Star Sports Editor Ken Tingley, who took a chance on an 18-year-old Adirondack kid with no experience for a sports clerk job.
“I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a ringside seat to history,” he said. “It’s because of Ken. If he didn’t hire me, I don’t know where I’d be. … But I wouldn’t be here (in the Disney bubble).”
“I went to school at The Post-Star. That’s where I got my J-school degree.”
As a 6-year-old, Reynolds said he was keeping score in a scorebook at Indian Lake basketball games. He was a stats geek and loved basketball.
When he was a little older, before graduating early at 15, he said lived to read the statistics page of The Post-Star and would daily go to the high school’s office to grab a copy, perplexing the staff.
“I loved the box scores,” the now 47-year-old said, adding that back then there was no internet or cable TV. “The paper was my window to the outside world.”
He spoke about how much of his current life deals with numbers, and he credits math teacher Bruce Fassett with helping him be better with them.
He credits his grandmother, who taught second grade for decades, for his love of reading. And he said former English teacher Nora Harrington helped foster his love of writing, even though he may not have appreciated reading “Beowulf” at the time.
He remains close with former gym teacher John Reynolds, whose daughter, Carli, just asked Tim Reynolds, no relation, to officiate her upcoming wedding.
Reynolds, the coach, praised Reynolds, the AP sports reporter, and credited him for helping fund AAU basketball teams for years through a golf tournament he sponsored.
And although Tim Reynolds laments the fact that traveling for work keeps him from coming back to Indian Lake as much as he’d like, John Reynolds said his impact on the town will long be felt.
“My mom still looks for his byline in the paper every day,” John Reynolds said of his 80-year-old mother. “Everybody is very proud of him.”
Harrington, his former English teacher, said Reynolds has been so gracious over the years, both with donations of sporting equipment for students and with his time, coming to tell stories to the whole school huddled in one room.
“The kids were spellbound” at the stories of all the famous athletes and people he has met and written about, she said. “Students were so impressed, because he was just like them, an Indian Lake kid.”
Harrington said she loved having him in class, and despite the fact that he was only 13, he was a leader in the class with his wit and intellect.
“I’m a Tim Reynolds fan,” she said, “and I loved having him as a student.”
Carli Reynolds said when she asked Tim to officiate her wedding, which will require him to get certified to do it, he eagerly agreed.
She said he has provided for her and basketball teammates over the years, from orchestrating the donation of sneakers from Dwayne Wade’s foundation, Wade’s World, to helping send them to basketball camps and getting her whole college basketball team to a Miami Heat game.
But beyond that, she spoke of him as almost like family, and said he means a lot to Indian Lake.
“He has left such an impact on this community that’ll last forever,” she said. “He’s pretty awesome. But he is very humble.”
Never took no for an answer
After high school, when dreams of playing hoops at Syracuse University had faded, Reynolds took a job as assistant basketball coach at then Castleton State College, where he basically kept a lot of game stats.
Those game stats and notes were all he had to show Tingley at The Post-Star when he applied for a sports clerk position that paid him $65 a week.
Tingley hired him anyway.
As he tells it, those skills were perfect for the job, which was basically taking calls from coaches and writing game shorts.
But in what would become a theme, Reynolds wasn’t content and soon was telling Tingley that the paper should be covering volleyball and that he’d do it.
“He basically carved out a beat for himself,” said Tingley, who went on to be managing editor for the paper for more than 20 years until his recent retirement.
Tingley spoke about Reynolds’ career with a mix of awe and a sense of destiny. He talked about repeatedly having to reel in his 18-year-old eager reporter, including when Siena played an NIT game at the Glens Falls Civic Center and Reynolds was told to stay in the office despite begging to be included in the event coverage.
When Tingley arrived at the Civic Center to find Reynolds already in the press area, he was miffed but ultimately let him stay anyway.
It was that drive, Tingley said, that obviously served him well since.
“He was a guy who wasn’t going to say no to anything,” he said, adding that when Tingley covered the Olympics in Salt Lake City, Reynolds was helping him out with press needs. “You could not slow him down.”
And The Post-Star still depends on Reynolds decades after he left, Tingley said, knowing that he’ll produce AP stories dealing with regional issues despite covering major national sports.
“There’s never been anybody else quite like Tim,” he said.
Longtime Post-Star reporter Don Lehman, who roomed with Reynolds in Glens Falls during his time at the paper, said it was easy to see his talent, even as an 18-year-old kid.
“I remember him being really polished and astute for someone as young as he was when he came to the paper. He clearly just loved the sports world, and quickly was one of the best writers and reporters on the staff at age 18,” he said. “He understood that a huge part of the job was effort and awareness.”
And far from a print “dinosaur,” Lehman said Reynolds has changed with the times, evidenced by his witty and well-followed Twitter posts, which often touch on topics outside of sports.
Monumental moments and humility
Despite the fact that his words are read by people all around the world on an almost daily basis, and despite the fact his phone is filled with contacts like former NBA star Dwayne Wade, Reynolds deflects praise almost with resentment.
“I’ve never forgotten who I am and where I came from,” he said. “I’m still a kid from home, from the 518. … The fact that I get to write about sports most days — I haven’t worked a day in 29 years.”
He repeatedly said how he has to pinch himself daily at what he gets to do for a job.
He talked about seeing lines of people waiting to get into Miami’s American Airlines Arena to see the Heat, perhaps for their one and only time, and it’s not lost on him that he gets to do it almost daily.
But what moments stick out most when you’ve seen basically every national sports championship and nine Olympics?
He mentioned seeing the Great Wall of China when he was there for the Olympics. He spoke about his AP Story of the Year award for a powerful story about the first football practice at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida after the massacre there, held at midnight.
And there were funny recollections too, like the time he chipped a tooth drinking beer from the Calder Cup, as an 18-year-old, with Adirondack Red Wings tough guy Max Middendorf holding it. It was the Wings’ last Cup victory and, of course, he was in the middle of it.
“I think the statute of limitations is up on that?” he joked.
But he said the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010 stand out for two reasons. First, a young sledder from the country of Georgia died in a practice run 11 hours before the opening ceremonies, forcing him into a news role that saw him and other reporters commandeer a local real estate office to write their somber stories.
But Vancouver also saw underdog American Steve Holcomb win gold in the four-man bobsled event — exceptional at the time for an American team.
“It hadn’t happened in like 62 years,” Reynolds said. “And here was this guy who nearly lost his sight, was depressed and had considered suicide. The quintessential Olympic story.”
Reynolds said reporters aren’t supposed to get close to sources, but he said he came to consider Holcomb a friend and when he died at 37, he said he wept — a lot.
But despite everything he’s seen, including all the games, he said the best basketball game he’s ever witnessed was Indian Lake beating Minerva 98-94 in overtime in 1998. He spits out stats from the game like it was yesterday, and said the tiny gym that holds 300 seemed to have 20,000 people in it. He marveled how Indian Lake came back from an 18-point third-quarter deficit, which is unheard of, he said.
“You just never know when you’re going to see something that will stay with you forever and ever. And maybe it speaks to how much I love where I’m from,” he said.
Linda and the next chapter
Reynolds met his wife, Linda Trischitta, while working at the Times Union in Albany after leaving The Post-Star with a short stop at the Plattsburgh Press-Republican in between. And when she left Albany for Florida to work for People magazine in 2001, he followed and they were married two weeks later.
“I think she lost a bet,” he joked when asked how the marriage came to be.
After initially living in the bustle of Miami — a huge culture shock from the North Country boy both climate-wise and culture-wise — he now lives in a suburb of Miami, and his wife, a decorated journalist herself, is now editor of a small paper called The Miami Laker.
They don’t have kids, but it’s clear based on his Facebook page that two shiatsu dogs served that role in their lives. Sadly, the oldest recently died at age 15 leaving a big hole in the family.
“MuShu was world famous. Everybody loved that dog and that dog made me tolerable for people,” he said with a laugh.
Their other shiatsu, Mikey, is still holding the fort and their hearts, he said, but the loss of MuShu was tough.
Reynolds said their relationship works because they both understand the pressures of journalism and serve as each other’s editors. She’s understands him being gone for 80 days in an NBA bubble, and he’s happy to copy edit the pages of her twice-monthly newspaper.
“We’re total opposites, but it works for us,” he said, adding that he does often have a cosmopolitan in the shaker waiting for her on Friday evenings.
Trischitta agreed, saying they’re fortunate to be in the same profession because they both understand its demands. And like many said about him, she also spoke about his work ethic.
“Tim is one of the hardest working reporters I know. His passion for sports and athletes’ stories shows in his writing,” she said, adding that her dad clips his work and can tell his writing even with no byline.
But she also spoke about him as a person, and how his demeanor helps in his work.
“Tim is a very empathetic person and I think athletes are drawn to his kindness,” she said.
So what’s next for him? What’s the next goal or challenge for a sports reporter who has seen so much of the world?
He said he’d love to cover the Masters and Wimbledon and write books, but in the next breath he also said he still loves what he’s doing. And, idealistically, he said it would be great to return to Indian Lake and coach basketball someday.
“But it’s hard for me to say I want more when I have a passport with as many stamps in it as I do. How can I want more than what I’ve already gotten out of this job?” he said. “I’ve gotten to see so much of the world and I love this job.”
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