By STEVE KRAH
Indiana native Matt Reida has landed back in SEC territory.
This time as an volunteer assistant baseball coach at the University of Alabama.
The 2010 graduate of Western High School in Russiaville, Ind., played four baseball seasons at the University of Kentucky — a Southeastern Conference member — concluding in 2014.
Lefty-swinging infielder Reida (pronounced Ray-da) was selected in the 47th round of the 2010 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago White Sox. He did not sign and went to college.
The MLB came calling again in 2014. Reida signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays and played 42 games for the Gulf Coast League Rays after one contest with the independent River City Rascals.
With the help of then-UK assistant and current Alabama head coach Brad Bohannon, Reida began his coaching career in 2016 on the Indiana University staff then led by Chris Lemonis (who is now head coach at SEC member Mississippi State University).
“I love Coach Bo,” says Reida, 26. “I have the utmost respect for what he does.
“He’s been a mentor for me for years.”
What is Reida doing with the Crimson Tide?
“A little bit of everything,” says Reida. “I’m now helping with the infielders and helping Coach (Jerry) Zulli with hitters. We have coaches (Bohannon, Zulli, Jason Jackson) that have done things at a high level. We all have our hands in a lot of different areas.
“Coach Bohannon is great at empowering his coaches. I’ll help with recruiting.”
While at UK, Bohannon was honored as the 2015 American Baseball Coaches Association/Baseball America National Assistant Coach of the Year.
Lemonis won the same award in 2013 while at the University of Louisville where he served for six seasons (2009-14) then spent four campaigns in charge at Indiana (2015-18).
Reida reflects on his two seasons (2016-17) with Lemonis at IU.
“It was my first experience in college coaching,” says Reida. “I didn’t realize what all went into the job.
“(Lemonis) has the reputation as a recruiter. I saw the see the hours he would spend and his level of commitment, how he would build relationships.”
In 2018, Reida was an assistant at Xavier University. His boss is Cincinnati was former IU player Billy O’Conner, who was in his first season as Musketeers head coach.
“Billy was great because he gave all of his coaches complete freedom,” says Reida. “There was a level of trust.
“He’s going to do a phenomenal job at Xavier. He gets more out of what he has around him.”
O’Conner, who at 31 is one of the younger coaches in NCAA Division baseball, leads from the front.
“He’s out their working on the field. He takes his turn to do laundry. Nothing is beneath him. As the head coach, he jumps in and makes things happen.”
Reida played at Kentucky for Gary Henderson, who led Mississippi State to the College World Series and was named National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Coach of the Year in 2018.
Teaching the mental side of baseball was a strength Reida saw in Henderson.
“He really thought the game at a different level,” says Reida. “He talked about routine a ton and the thought process. He talked about how to handle emotion and adversity and play the game one pitch at a time.
“I also learned from Hendu about personal responsibility. If it is to be, it’s up to me. Ownership was definitely a cornerstone of his program.”
Reida was a teammate of Terre Haute’s A.J. Reed when he won the Golden Spikes Award as D-I baseball’s top player in 2014.
“He’s an extraordinary person and a player,” says Reida of Reed. “I watched him grow for three years. It was neat to be a part of. He was someone that was driven.”
Read has played 48 games in the big leagues with the Houston Astros and slugged 123 home runs in the minors.
Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Ty Calloway was Reida’s coach at Western.
Calloway finished his 36-year coaching career with a 663-310 record with 18 seasons of 20 or more victories and an IHSAA Class 3A state title in 2012.
“I learned a ton from Coach Calloway,” says Reida. “One thing that stuck out with me was his level of commitment to the game and level of preparation.
“You could tell how much baseball meant to him and how passionate he was.”
Born in Kokomo, Reida grew up in nearby Russiaville and winning the city title with his Russiaville Youth Baseball League team against Kokomo area squad at 12 is still one of his baseball highlights.
Among the talented ballplayers of that era were future collegians Nolan Sanburn (Arkansas), Colton Summers (Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne), Seth Vautaw (Ball State) and T.J. Weir (Ball State).
“It’s great area for baseball,” says Reida. “It really is.”
Travel ball included the Central Indiana Kings (a Kokomo area team organized by Matt’s father Chad Reida and Tim Weir), Indiana Bulls and Midland (Ohio) Redskins. T.J. Weir, Tim’s son, pitches in the San Diego Padres organization.
Midland won two Connie Mack World Series championships with Matt Reida on the roster. Along the way, the Redskins had to best teams featuring Manny Machado, Archie Bradley, Dylan Bundy and Mark Appel.
Chad and Shelly Reida have two other children — Tad and Tiffany.
Tad Reida, who is six years older than Matt, played at Western, Wichita State University (2004-05) and Indiana University (2006) and coached at West Virginia University (2009-10) and Air Force Academy (2011). He now is attached to a travel ball organization — CageRat Baseball — in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Tiffany Reida played basketball at Indiana State University.
Matt Reida holds a communications degree from Kentucky, where he graduated Cum Laude in 2014 with a 3.69 grade-point average.
Matt Reida, a graduate of Western High School in Russiaville, Ind., and the University of Indiana, is now a volunteer assistant baseball coach at the University of Alabama. (University of Alabama Photo)