Academy Park’s Reggie Day uses various techniques to reach youngsters
Reggie Day can be referred to as “old school.”
The 42-year veteran teacher and tennis coach, Day remains passionate about making a contribution to the lives of student-athletes.
“Bernie is the reason why I teach,” he said while sharing a story regarding what led him into teaching, coaching and his longevity.
While a student at White Plains, New York’s Archbishop Stepinac High School, Day encountered Father Bernard “Bernie” McMahon, then an English teacher, chaplain, drama coach and mentor at Day’s alma mater. Emmy Award winner Alan Alda, Academy Award winner John Voight, and famed Worldwide Wrestling Federation personality Captain Lou Albano are some of Day’s fellow alumni and former students of Father McMahon.
“I played on the tennis team but was an average high school player that somehow found my way onto Notre Dame’s team,” Day said.
Upon graduating from Notre Dame, where he was a member of the university’s varsity tennis team, he began teaching and coaching in 1970 at Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. A far cry from his New Rochelle, New York roots, Day received an opportunity to get back up north and teach in Radnor.
For the past 25 years, the Delaware County resident Day has taught English and history at Academy Park High School in Sharon Hill. Throughout his career he has had assignments at Radnor High School, Malvern Prep, Cabrini and Haverford Colleges, while coaching football and basketball at certain points. But his success has come on the tennis court where he has earned more than 500 wins.
“He can take someone that has never played and make them into a good player,” said Folcroft resident and Academy Park graduating senior, Joshua Scanlon. “He’s very good at what he does.”
Joshua will be competing in the inaugural Mayor’s Cup Boys High School Invitational, from April 6 and 7, at the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center.
“He has done so much for my son,” said Joshua’s mother. “He works so hard and is dedicated; he never gives up and is very inspiring.”
Sharon Hill’s Courtney Jenkins is another one of Day’s success stories. The 2011 Del-Val League Girls Tennis Champion has blossomed under his tutelage.
“I have seen Coach Day hold Courtney accountable,” said Courtney’s father Duwaine Jenkins, an 18-year health and physical education teacher at Pepper Middle School and the District 12 chairperson for Philadelphia Public League tennis. “He coaches her and doesn't give her special treatment which is being fair to her and the rest of the team.”
Not known to be a hotbed for developing tennis talent, Day takes great pride in developing young people through tennis that otherwise may not have learned the sport.
“It’s not about me,” Day said. “It’s about giving these kids an opportunity to be better students and better people.”
In addition to his duties as teacher and coach at Academy Park, Day has been a long time active board member of the Philadelphia Area Tennis District. Approaching retirement, Day does not appear to be slowing down.
“I do this because I love the kids,” Day said. “I have Bernie’s obituary on my board in my classroom. In some way, I believe I’m continuing his legacy and making an impact on these kids like he did me.”