Panthers girls basketball head coach Tim Reznich has some follicle fun in Frankfort

Apr. 18—FRANKFORT — There's no arguing that Tim Reznich is a man of his word.

Well, the Frankfort varsity girls basketball coach didn't really have much of a choice in that department thanks to a signed piece of paper that still hangs on the front wall of his classroom.

Drawn up on March 20, 2020, the ironclad contract — which underwent a few changes that might not get the stamp of approval from a notary public — made it clear, despite the ink on some of the writing being a bit faded that, "Tim Reznich said if the 2024 varsity girls team goes to the Final Four, Noelle R., Evelyn V., Grace W. can dye his hair any color."

"I'm sure I didn't give it a thought back then," Reznich said. "I was like, 'Yeah, sure. I'll sign that.'"

The rather colorful and unquestionably legally binding document seemed to have gone through a couple of iterations throughout the years. The original intent seemed to rest the fate of Reznich's hair color on the Panthers winning a state championship in 2024. Then, "goes to" and "Final Four" were added along with language stating the dye job could be multi-colored or they could even shave Reznich's head.

The contract was signed by Noelle Rommell, Evelyn VanTol and Grace Wolfe, but only Rommell and VanTol remained on the basketball team through their senior seasons.

"At the moment, I feel like it was kind of a joke and all fun and games," Rommell said. "It didn't feel real at the moment."

"It seemed like a big dream that would never happen," VanTol chimed in. "Making it there, to the state championship, it didn't seem like it was something we'd ever do — but we always wanted to do it."

So what gave the young Panthers the confidence of a possible Final Four appearance four years down the road? Oddly enough, it wasn't wins on the court.

"We actually never even won a game until our freshman year," VanTol said, laughing as she recalled their 0-15 junior high season. "We were real bad, and even though we were going 0-15, we were still like, 'Hey, maybe we really like basketball. Maybe we should stick with this.' We did stick with it, and things ended up working out in our favor."

That junior high team had just five players, so Reznich was quick to cut that squad some slack and clarify that they weren't bad.

"They weren't horrible. There was nothing horrible about them. They just didn't have the legs or the numbers to compete," he said. "But there was a lot of promise, and I could see how hard they worked, even back then."

Others, including fellow senior Kylee Harris, joined the team and also joined in on the follicle fun later on and soon saw the opportunity to hold Reznich's feet — or hair — to the proverbial fire if they could make their way to the Breslin Center this season.

And they did, which meant Reznich's locks were dyed purple — in honor of the Panthers' school colors — last week as the head coach lived up to his end of the bargain after his team did the same.

"We didn't want to do anything too mean or too crazy," Rommell said.

"I had visions of Dennis Rodman," Reznich said, referring to the wild hairstyles the NBA Hall of Famer used to sport when he played.

Despite not winning a conference title in the highly competitive Northwest Conference this past season, the Panthers grew through those difficult games against the likes of conference co-champions Kingsley and Glen Lake as well as Onekama, Benzie Central, Leland and Buckley.

A seven-game win streak in the middle of the season showed the potential of Reznich's squad. The Panthers later rattled off 11 straight Ws late in the campaign that started Feb. 14 against Suttons Bay and carried them to East Lansing and the state championship semifinals, where they lost to Kingston on March 23.

"I've had a lot of confidence in these girls from the start, but those last few games of the regular season I could see they were getting to the point where they were going to be very, very tough to beat," Reznich said. "At that point, I was like, "Yeah, I guess I'm going to be walking around with a purple head or an orange head or a green head or something.'"

That run between losses saw the Panthers pick up district and regional championships while knocking off Onekama, Glen Lake, Gaylord St. Mary and Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart.

"(The contract) was always kind of just there, but we were just taking it one game at a time," Rommell said. "All of sudden, it was like, 'Wow, we're almost there.'"

"As we got closer and closer, it made us want (the Final Four berth) a little bit more," VanTol said.

Frankfort's 56-46 win over the Irish in the state quarterfinals meant that Reznich's hair would be changing color. He was just hopeful it would happen after his scheduled vacation to Ireland, which was set for the day after the state championship finals.

"I thought about it," Harris said when asked if she considered a bright-green hairdo that Reznich could sport during his trip to the Emerald Isle. "I was thinking green with some orange shamrocks or something."

Reznich kindly said it would have been "very interesting" to tour Ireland with dyed hair.

"I'm very grateful that they let me do the trip first," he said with a laugh. "What was cool with this group was I had so much fun with them. They never worried about winning or losing games. They enjoyed being out there, and they enjoyed it more and more the better they got. I really enjoyed watching them play because I like watching good basketball, and every day I got to watch that with them."

Rommell said that fun attitude is just how the 2023-24 Panthers were.

"Even in our most stressful games, we tried to keep it light and fun. That made the experience so much better," she said.

"Even at those 6 a.m. practices, we were still having fun with it," VanTol added. "We were still working hard, but we were having fun with each other."

Reznich said his players would have felt that he "gave up on t

hem" if he didn't make them go through the "grueling 5 a.m. or 6 a.m." practices that began their two-a-days during the first few weeks of practice for the season.

"That's the longest season we've ever had," Harris said. "It was a senior year, and we wanted to have a good season. So us making that run and making it that far was awesome, but it was a long season and we were physically tired at the end. But it was still fun."

And making it to the Breslin was the pinnacle of fun.

"It's crazy. It's still hard to accept," VanTol said. "We'll be walking down the hallways and see each other, and we'll be like, 'Oh wait, we went to the Breslin.'"

"It was even more special because it was such an amazing group of girls," Rommell said. "We always just enjoyed being around each other and playing for each other."

Seems like a colorful head of hair was a small price to pay for such a wonderful season.