Originally created 07/20/02

Coach finds calling



Kenny Reddick's dedication to his job and family nearly cost him his life 14 years ago. He has made the most of the second chance he was given.

The Rincon, Ga., resident was at Diamond Lakes Park on Friday evening, coaching the 17-and-under Reddick Rebels, who lost 9-6 to the WAY (Welcome All Youth) A's, of Atlanta, in the Georgia Games Championships baseball tournament.

Reddick decided to work a Saturday shift one weekend as a lineman for a power company in Effingham County, Ga., to earn some extra money to support his wife, Cheryl, and their 1-year-old son, Joshua. A freak accident resulted in Reddick losing his left hand and most of the use of his right hand.

He was close to dying, and doctors expected him to spend six to nine months in the hospital. Reddick made a miraculous recovery and was home in just 21 days. He refers to everything that has happened to him since his accident as his "second life."

"I figured that must be my calling, to help the kids," Reddick said of his amazing recovery. "It was hard for me to get accepted into society, but the kids helped me."

Reddick played recreational softball before his injury. He wanted to remain active in sports, and figured coaching would be the perfect fit for him.

Besides all of the physical rehabilitation he went through, Reddick was faced with the task of earning acceptance, despite his physical differences.

"I couldn't be physical and athletic anymore, so I figured I still had the talent to coach kids who wanted to play," Reddick said. "I felt that I could catch kids at a young age and change the way they look at life and the way they look at society in general. Anybody can be productive, no matter what you look like."

Joshua, now 15, feels lucky just to have his father around, and sees having him as a coach as a bonus.

"I don't think I could have made it without him," said Joshua, a catcher who earned a baseball gold medal in the Georgia Games three years ago. "He still acts like (the injury) is no problem with him. He treats us (well) and takes care of us."

The Rebels will be in action at Diamond Lakes again at 10 a.m. today.

Reach Lane Kramer at (706) 823-3221.