Thursday, 01 August 2013 00:00
Even though Martin “Bunky” Reid passed away of colon cancer 20 years ago while only in his early 40’s, his memory still inspires young men today to achieve, both athletically and scholastically.
Michael Jackson, a Hofstra University graduate and Supervisor of the Westbury Village Recreation Department for the past 17 years, recalls Reid as an important and unforgettable figure in Westbury, and one that had a profound impact on his career path.
“He was my high school basketball coach. He pretty much meant everything to the Westbury community,” Jackson said. “He was a great role model. A former principal at Westbury High School, former basketball coach…for lack of a better word, he was an icon in Westbury.”
The biggest lesson Jackson says he took away from Reid in their time together was the fact that athletics are a powerful way to give young people the discipline they need to succeed, both in the classroom and in life.
“Personally, recreation probably saved me from the streets,” he said. “Growing up, I was getting into trouble, and sports put me on the right path and told me that if I wanted to be on the school team I needed good grades, don’t drink, don’t smoke...all of that propelled me into being the person I am today, as a role model for the kids.”
To honor the legacy of his former mentor, Jackson started the Bunky Reid All-Star Sports Club; a basketball league that has called countless young people of the community members over the years.
“Bunky Reid All-Stars are primarily all kids from Westbury, but sometimes we have kids from other towns as well,” he said. “We have training camps for kids as young as four, as well as teen and adult teams. We have 51 teams, and we play in tournaments both in the city and on Long Island. Sometimes we even go out of state just to show the kids something different.”
The Bunky Reid All-Stars haven’t lost a game in three years, and one of the reasons why is Darius Young, 13, who has been a member of the Bunky Reid All-Stars for the past five years. According to Jackson, this youngester is easily the best eighth-grade basketball player on Long Island.
“I don’t think I ever want to get out of the All-Stars, because Mr. Jackson is one of the best,” Young said. “It’s fun, and it shows me that with hard work I can go as far as I want in life.”
Jonathan Dean, 13, has been in the Bunky Reid All-Stars for four years, and he’s taken the lessons afforded to him by Jackson to heart.
“I love playing with Mr. Jackson. It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “He taught me how to score, how to take over in games, and how important it is to study hard when you’re off the court.”
But in the end, Jackson said that it’s not just winning on the basketball court; the real goal is to prepare these young men to achieve their goals and dreams, and to teach them that nothing is beyond their grasp; all-too-relevant values that a great man drilled into his own head 20 years ago.
“We try our best to make sure the kids on the team are scholar-athletes,” he said. “I tell them that they’ve got to go to class and get good grades. That’s what I’m trying to instill in the kids of Westbury — that college is an obtainable goal, and that they all should work hard to achieve it.”
“The reason I did this was because “Bunky” Reid was such an influence in my life,” Jackson added. “He was always there for me and provided a good example, so now I just keep his name alive and try to be a father-figure to my players in the way he was one to me.”