Washington Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle has a long and illustrious history of coaching games in unorthodox outfits, dressing up as a cowboy or a vampire or Mr. T. The league’s tolerance for Reagle’s eccentric apparel appears to be waning, however, as his latest costume earned him a fine and a stern warning from the commissioner.
DC has been in a cold snap recently; the temperature in the nation’s capital has been unseasonably chilly. Wednesday night was the second half of a home-and-home against the Quebec Tigres; the Galaxy had dropped the first game 6-3. Before Wednesday’s game, Reagle made a seemingly off-hand remark, telling reporters that “my mom always told me it’s important to stay on the sunny side, so that’s what we’re going to do.”
When Reagle took the bench that evening, however, it became clear exactly what he meant. The coach was dressed more for a day at the beach than a hockey game. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, board shorts, flip-flops, and sunglasses. He even appeared to have smeared zinc oxide on his nose.
The Galaxy players took the costume in stride, but the visiting Tigres and the officials were taken somewhat aback. “I didn’t notice anything at first,” said head referee Scott Pritchard. “But then I hear Reagle calling me over to talk, so I skate over and suddenly I’m staring at Jimmy Buffett. I’m thinking, ‘What in the world is going on over here?’”
After the Galaxy’s 4-0 win, Reagle (still in his beach garb) explained the method to his madness. “It’s just been too darn cold here lately,” the coach said, “so I’m just trying to think sunny! Change your mind and you can change the world, right? If I’m dressed for good surfing weather, then good surfing weather will come! That’s, like, totally how it works.” Reagle continued the beach theme by dropping phrases such as “cowabunga” and “totally tubular” into his answers.
The league was unamused, fining Reagle $500 for violating the rules against coaches wearing “professional attire” on the bench. “Coach Reagle is a colorful character, and I appreciate that,” said SHL Commissioner Perry Mitchell. “And we’ve looked the other way at some of his costume choices before. But at some point, we’ve got to draw the line. We don’t want to turn the league into a sideshow.” The commissioner added that the league would consider further action, including possible suspensions, if Reagle continued to flout the dress code.
Washington’s front office and fans both responded with outrage to the decision. The hashtag “#FreeRodney” began trending on Twitter shortly after the decision was announced, and Galaxy GM Garnet “Ace” Adams stoutly defended his coach. “Look, we all know that Rodney’s a little kooky,” said Adams. “Okay, maybe more than a little. All right, he’s basically a lunatic. But we love him for that! And this is a free country! Who’s the commissioner to say that Rodney can’t wear a Hawaiian shirt on the bench? He has a right to bare arms!”
For his part, Reagle reacted with bemusement. “I mean, this is where they draw the line? Really?” the coach said. “Dressing up like Mr. T was OK, but wearing a beach outfit is demeaning to the game? I don’t get it. It’s not like I was naked out there or anything.”
The coach added that the decision is popular with at least one person. “My wife is behind the commish 100% on this one,” said Reagle. “Being married to me is embarrassing enough as it is. She told me that from now on, I’m not leaving the house until she’s approved my outfit. That’s probably for the best.”