Brody Reese loves sports — so much so that when asked recently what his life would be like without them, he was nearly speechless.
"I don't even know how to answer that question, if I'm being honest," Reese said. "Almost all of my time is dedicated to them, so I don't even know the person I'd be if I hadn't been wrestling and playing football all these years."
Understandable from a kid regularly scoring or throwing touchdowns, but for a young man who spends his fall Friday nights smashing into people every couple of minutes, and his winter evenings and weekends fighting off 300-pound men working feverishly to pin him to a mat, it's more than glory or notoriety that keeps this 18-year-old coming back for more.
"It's the work," Reese said. "I think I'll miss wrestling more than anything. Sure, the brutal workouts and everything aren't great when they're happening, but man, you feel great afterwards, and I miss them when I'm not competing."
Competing is something that Reese has been doing since the second grade. His dad, Adam, spent more than a decade coaching football and wrestling at Hillsboro High School and since at Century, and as a tag-along, a young Brody saw firsthand what it took to succeed both on the mat and the gridiron.
He used that inspiration to build himself from a relatively unsuccessful athlete as a child, into a state champion wrestler and soon-to-be FBS college football player.
"I struggled a lot in the beginning," Brody Reese said about the beginning of his sports career. "When I was a kid, I got pinned almost every match, so it goes to show how much the time you put in reflects on the mat and on the football field. I've improved so much, and I 100 percent attribute that to the hard work."
Over his time at Century, Reese has parlayed that work into a Smash Nationals title, a Reser's Tournament of Champions win and an OSAA state championship on the mat in 2020. On the football field, he earned all-league honors three times, this past year was named second team all-state, and was recently offered a preferred walk-on opportunity to play football at the University of Washington — which he accepted, signing his letter-of-intent June 18 in the gymnasium at Century High School.
He managed all of that while maintaining a 3.7 GPA.
Reese is confident in his ability both on and off the field. He is also grateful for the help he's gotten from his parents and coaches along the way.
One of those coaches has been his dad. Reese speaks highly of the contribution both his mother and father have made regarding who he is and what he's been able to accomplish, and he said his dad has been pretty good at staying in the appropriate lane between being his coach and being a father figure.
"Of course, there have been those times when maybe it's been frustrating," he said with a chuckle, "but I wouldn't trade it for anything, because I wouldn't be where I am today without him."
Nor would he be without a handful of coaches who have made their mark as well. Reese cited the lasting contributions of Century head football coach Danny Kernan, current Jaguars wrestling coach LJ Hammer, and the former Century and current head wrestling coach at Forest Grove High School, Guy Takahashi, for helping him along the way.
Takahashi in particular made a lasting impression.
"He just has a different mentality towards things," Reese said. "It's hard to describe. You just have to be in the room with the guy and experience the way he runs practices and the way he treats people. He's really affected how I approach a lot of things."
And it's that approach that Reese said has gotten him to this point, and that he'll be counting on to get him where he wants to go at Washington in the coming years.
The Huskies have a storied football history and have again risen to relative prominence over the last half-decade, especially on the defensive side of the ball, where they have had 21 players drafted into the NFL since 2015.
Reese knows that as a walk-on, he'll have his hands full to get on the field, but he's far from shying away from the challenge.
"I like my chances," he said. "I'm pretty confident in myself and the abilities I've learned over the years, and I know I'm going to go up there and work harder than anyone else and try to earn my spot.
"Sure, I'm nervous, but I'm going to give it everything I have."
And goals? Brody said he had hoped to win another state wrestling title this year before placing second at the state meet June 25-26, but in addition to that, he hopes to earn a scholarship at the University of Washington and, if things go well, chase an even bigger dream.
"It's my dream to play in the NFL," he said, "but I'm gonna go up there and work my butt off at Washington, and in the end, do my best and see where that takes me."
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