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The Reidsville Legacy - the small town secret sauce that fosters champions

Reidsville Rams Football Team
Reidsville Rams Football Team

Once Upon a Time is a fitting introduction to the fairytale journey of the Reidsville Rams’ football team. The City of Reidsville has been known for several years as “NC’s Football Capital” based on the team’s continued success and has embraced the football connection through downtown events, Team Reidsville t-shirts and downtown flags. In 2023, the Rams captured their 23rd State Championship, reinforcing why they hold the honor for most titles in the state. Their unbelievable success always begs the question, “How do they do it? What is their secret?” 

Many factors contribute to a team’s success, including an experienced coaching staff, passionate players, and a supportive fan base. All of these are things the Rams have an abundance of, but what is that unique ingredient that sets them apart? In talking to team members, coaches and the Reidsville community, we find a special combination of these factors is what makes the difference. A recipe we like to call The Reidsville Legacy. 

In the 2023-2024 school year, the Rams didn’t stop with just one title. They also took home the state title in men’s basketball with a 29-0 perfect season record and were ranked #17 in the nation. Although every member of the team contributed to this success, two of the star players have a special connection that embodies what The Reidsville Legacy represents. 

Dionte Neal and Kendre Harrison have been piquing the interest of college recruiters since last year, their freshman year, when their stats alone made people take notice. Since the 2023 basketball season, these young men have been racking up awards on both the state and national levels. Did we mention they are related? Cousins in fact and they both play on the title-winning football team. Just this year Kendre was ranked as the #1 tight end in the nation and named MaxPreps 2023-2024 Male National Athlete of the Year! View the full article here

Dionte Neal and Kendre Harrison
Dionte Neal and Kendre Harrison

There is no shortage of articles about these amazing players and their achievements, but we wanted to dive deeper than the numbers and see what we could discover about their journey. Both Dionte and Kendre were born and raised in Reidsville. They have been playing ball together their entire lives. They grew up playing in the local recreational leagues along with many other Rams team members (football and basketball). Involvement in the local rec leagues is a big part of what helps create the Rams’ champion-winning secret sauce. “We have played together our whole lives. We know each other on another level because we have been family since the first time we stepped onto the court,” stated Dionte. He wasn’t just talking about his literal family with Kendre, but his team family with the Rams. 

Dionte’s Dad, Jarrod Neal, is the assistant basketball coach for the Rams and his Grandmother, Kim Neal, used to coach the girl's basketball team at the middle school but now focuses on volleyball at the high school. Jarrod also played basketball for the Rams when he was in high school. “We never won a title during my years with the Rams,” stated Jarrod, “but we got pretty close several times.” 

Jarrod and Kim tell the same story as Dionte about how playing in the rec leagues influences the youth in Reidsville. “There is a bond that is formed with our youth, growing up together and playing in these leagues. There isn’t a lot for young people to do in a small town,” explained Kim. The rec leagues are where they spend the majority of their time. Playing together, forming lifelong friendships and earning each other’s trust. “This makes them a better, more connected team when they get to high school,” added Jarrod. 

Could the special ingredient to the championship sauce be the sense of community and family bond that forms throughout decades of history as the love of the game passes down from generation to generation? Is that not the essence of what living and growing up in a small town is all about? 

Grandparents who attended school and played with your friend’s grandparents, parents who played together at the same school with other parents and now enjoy watching their kids do the same thing? “All of us parents volunteered and coached in the rec leagues,” explained Jarrod, “and that’s why I’m back as an assistant coach at the high school today. There is an obligation to our kids and our community to continue the Ram legacy and support and teach the next generation.” 

Playing together for almost a decade before reaching high school is something you don’t see in the bigger cities. It’s a kinship and brotherhood that forms growing up in a small town with lifelong friends. It’s a connection that can only be forged in a close-knit community where neighbors become family and your biggest fans are in the thousands because the entire community shows up week after week to support each other. This is The Reidsville Legacy and it is peppered throughout the City. Not just in sports but also in occupations and business ownership where the family business passes from parents to children.

Dionte Neal at Reidsville Sign
Dionte Neal at Reidsville Sign

Come be a part of the community of champions that make up Team Reidsville! A team of business owners, residents, and passionate youth who continue to build on the spirit that makes their town stand out among the rest.

If you want to read more about the Rams Football and Basketball teams as well as articles on Dionte and Kendre follow them on social at @reidsvillefootball and @reidsvilleramsbasketball.


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