Fri Jun 2nd, 2023
Special to the Drum
Keeping supporters in suspense until almost the last possible second in her IHS student-athlete career, Harmony Reynolds showed up for practice—graduation practice, that is—early Thursday afternoon, May 25, ready to reveal the decision she’d made not even 48 hours earlier.
Unbeknownst to most, while Reynolds was wrapping up her last spring season suiting up for Lady Bobcat Soccer, she’d also been sorting pros and cons contained in recruiting pitches thrown her way by no fewer than six institutions of higher learning.
One, naturally, would have to win, and after finding herself wanted from coast to coast, Reynolds selected somewhere more or less in the middle—somewhere with enough of a small-town feel to remind her of home, but near a true mega-metropolis.
Ultimately, Reynolds chose Kankakee, Ill., Community College, situated roughly an hour south of Chicago.
“I’ve been to California, but that’s about it,” she said with a grin, following a brief ceremony inside IHS Gymnasium when she autographed her National Letter-of-Intent. “Never lived in a huge city, so all of it’s going to be pretty new to me.”
“You know, leaving my family for the first time and going that far is a little overwhelming, but I’m excited and I’m glad I get to take it to the next level.”
“Harmony, this year, really let me push her, let me yell at her and really help her grow as a student and a basketball player,” said IHS Girls’ Basketball head coach Trae Seibel. “This all comes from her hard work, and it’s all based on her efforts and her attitude to be coachable.”
Coaching was something KCC’s coaching staff—led by Casey Meister, set to begin her third season at the helm after spending seven as an assistant—did plenty of during the 2022-23 season, with eight freshmen plus a transfer on the roster. And for the most part, one could say the instruction was effective; after losing seven of its first eight games, Kankakee finished 13-17—helped by a seven-game winning streak between Jan. 14 (a 78-75 home win over Moraine Valley CC) and Feb. 4 (81-65 at home over Sauk Valley CC), improving KCC’s record to 12-12 at the time—in regular-season play.
The Lady Cavaliers (a NJCAA Division II member) then went 1-1 in the Region IV Tournament, including a season-ending 105-64 semifinals loss in Rockford, Ill., to tourney-hosting Rock Valley College. RVC then lost the title game, 96-68, to Midwest-B District powerhouse Morton College—the 2022 NJCAA National Tournament runner-up, and fifth-place squad in ’23 after defeating Midwest-A rival Bryant & Stratton College (elevating Morton to a school-record 34-1 overall) at SC4 Fieldhouse in Port Huron, Mich.
Having conquered Region IV for a third straight year, MC also led all NJCAA teams in made three-pointers (468).
Coming from a Colorado High School Activities Association program known for shooting the long ball, Reynolds—who averaged 14.6 points per game in helping Ignacio finish 11-11 overall in its return to the Intermountain League and Class 3A hoops—may find herself operating more on the wing at KCC than in the post.
“At the next level you tend to run into players that are a lot taller, that run a true ‘5’ position or a true ‘4,’ and so this last season I really introduced running the 3—which is a small forward—to Harmony,” Seibel said, “and then there were times she got to be a 2…running a guard position.”
“The offense we ran really put her in a position to…explore a three-pointer, or go all the way down to the block,” he explained. “So, I think she’s going to thrive as a guard and as a small forward; she can shoot the ball, can handle the ball, can run the floor very well, so I’m excited for her.”
“I think they already have a spot for me,” said Reynolds, who indicated her scholarship covers her tuition and books. “The other players’ heights are pretty much the same—some are taller, 6’1” or 6’2”—but I think I’ll be playing the same position.”
“She seems like a really excellent coach,” she added of Meister (née Hadley), a former star at and 2006 graduate of KCC. “The way she guided me through everything, I thought, was great; I just got super comfortable with her, like, right away.”
And managed to do so via modern technology.
“The coach reached out and I got to visit the team—you know, over FaceTime—and they showed me the campus,” Reynolds said. “I liked the campus a lot and how small the community is, you know? They’re covering everything but the housing—I have to pay for housing, but I do get to live with my teammates, so that’ll be great.”
“This opportunity that she has, is not a surprise to me,” stated Seibel. “She and Abbey Smith (a Lamar, Colo., CC commit) of Centauri, they led the league in scoring, Harmony was First Team All-League in the IML…she blossomed! Harmony definitely deserves to play at the next level.”
And perhaps, at a level beyond that; the same week as Reynolds decided upon Kankakee, graduating KCC sophomore Hayley Diveley committed to continue her career at NAIA Bluefield, Va., University.
“I think this is a really great opportunity for me,” Reynolds said. “It’s actually really nerve-wracking, very scary…but I hope I continued to succeed in the sport. I’m really excited.”