Sapulpa’s longtime head basketball coach Ray Reins has died

(SPS) — Sapulpa Public Schools is saddened to learn of the passing of former Chieftains head basketball coach, Ray Reins. 

Coach Reins led the Sapulpa boys varsity team to 347 thrilling victories over more than two decades, retiring as head basketball coach in 1992. He also taught psychology and street law at Sapulpa Public Schools for nearly four decades.

A charismatic and animated presence on the court, Reins was a tough leader and demanding coach who made an indelible impression on the lives of Sapulpa’s student-athletes.

“He really set the bar. If you played for him, you played hard,” said Andy Tuttle, Sapulpa Chieftains’ head boys golf coach, who played for Reins in the 1990s. “He was very well-respected with his peers around the state.”

Tuttle describes his former coach as larger-than-life. Reins donned his signature navy blue, ruffled tuxedo for televised games.

“Everybody liked to go watch him. He was a character on the bench and on the sidelines,” said Tuttle. “Other schools’ student bodies would have a heyday with him.”

Reins broke many school records and coached dozens of top players over the years. He took his teams to the state tournament numerous times, including his 1973 team with Mark Tucker, who went on to be drafted by the Chicago Bulls after playing at Oklahoma State.

In the early 1990s, Reins coached standouts Ray Poindexter, who played forward at the University of Tulsa, and Cody Hopson, who played at the University of Memphis.

“His teams were unbelievable, especially in the 90s,” said Rickey Bruner, Jr., who is now the head coach for the Chieftains boys basketball program. “Coach Reins was tough on his teams, but he really cared about his players.”

Fifteen years after leaving the head coaching position, Reins served as an assistant coach at an annual basketball tournament that bore his name.

“My first year here at Sapulpa, we honored Coach Reins at a basketball game,” said Bruner. “I had the opportunity to talk to him about his coaching style. You could tell, he loves basketball. He eats, sleeps and breathes basketball.”

Bruner would see Coach Reins and his son Mitch at college and high school games across the state. The pair continued to attend every Sapulpa game.

After graduating from Tulsa Central High School in 1957, Reins played forward at OSU under Coach Henry Iba, bringing what he learned to build a powerful Sapulpa Chieftains basketball program.

Coach Reins led hundreds of student-athletes to success both on the court and in life.

“He’s definitely a legend, not just in Sapulpa but in the state of Oklahoma,” said Bruner. “Everybody knew who Coach Reins was. He’s going to be missed in the basketball community.”

Ray Reins died Saturday, September 18 at the age of 82.

Sapulpa Public Schools is honored to be part of the fabric of Coach Reins’ iconic career. We send our deepest condolences to the Reins family.