This is the latest story in the "Still in the Game" series, which chronicles former area high school and college athletes who have pursued a professional career that keeps them involved with athletics.
DALLAS -- Dev Reeves couldn't bypass an inevitable reality as his professional soccer career reached its end.
What does he do now?
"I knew I did not want to get into professional coaching or collegiate coaching. I didn't want to take that route," said Reeves, who retired from playing in 1996 after an eight-year career in which he played for the Cleveland Crunch, St. Louis Ambush and Dallas Sidekicks.
"I had a business degree from Quincy University and I knew I wanted to utilize that degree. What type of business? I knew I wanted it to be sports related."
Where that would be, which company it would be with and how it would look were the mystery.
Then the phone rang and the mystery started to solve itself.
"I got a call from a former player with the Dallas Sidekicks who was going to interview for a representation job with a sporting goods company out of Italy that was really involved in soccer," Reevs said. "He said, 'I don't want to go. Do you want to go?'
"I knew I had to start looking, so I said yes and I went."
He didn't have to interview again.
A Quincy native who is enshrined in both the Quincy High School and Quincy University Halls of Fame, Reeves left the interview, started IAC The Sports Group and has enjoyed nearly a quarter-century of marketing a game he loves to the core.
Headquartered in Frisco, Texas, Reeves runs an independent sporting goods representation firm and has created a manufacturing arm of the company that produces vintage soccer balls.
"We've represented through the years some of the top soccer brands worldwide -- Puma, Diadora, Select Sports," Reeves said. "Select is a high-end quality soccer ball. More professional leagues in Europe and the U.S. use Select more than any other ball."
Reeves' company even provides the balls for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament and other postseason needs.
Beyond creating connection to his hometown and his alma mater, the business has allowed him to travel overseas, engage with a multitude of interesting people and personalities, and stay connected to soccer from youth leagues to the highest professional levels.
"It's a great path," said Reeves, who also has done some broadcasting with the Sidekicks and other major soccer events. "It's been an interesting 20-plus years in this industry. I've learned a lot and continue to learn a lot. I really, really enjoy it."
It's also enabled him to continue to give back to a community he still considers home.
Reeves starred at QHS, earning back-to-back all-state honors as a junior and senior and graduating as the program's all-time leader in goals scored with 45. He played four years at QU during the NCAA Division I era, starting 70 of the 71 games he played and finishing with 13 goals and seven assists.
Reeves was named one of the top 30 seniors in the nation in 1988 and turned professional the following spring.
He spent his rookie season in the MISL with the Cleveland Crunch, spent part of the next year in Sweden and returned to the United States and spent six seasons playing with the St. Louis Ambush and the Dallas Sidekicks.
All the while, Reeves returned to Quincy every summer to conduct his All-Star Camp for kids, a week-long event he conducted for 20 years.
"Getting to know the kids each year was the best part," Reeves said. "Some of these kids went to the camp eight straight years. So you got to see them grow up. Then reading their names in the Herald-Whig and seeing what they're doing with the Quincy Notre Dame program or the Quincy High School program, that brought me tons of joy and pride seeing these kids succeed."
So did sharing his post-playing days professional success with one of his mentors.
That occurred a few years ago when Reeves presented the late Jack Mackenzie, his coach as a youth and during his QU career, with one of the 1950s vintage soccer balls his company produces.
"Man, he loved it," Reeves said. "That's the ball he grew up playing with. He really, really liked that ball. It's neat to see people's eyes light up when they see the older style soccer balls. It's a full-grain leather ball. If you played with it today and it rains, it'd be like playing with a brick. It's amazing how the ball has changed.
"Seeing the ball brought back so many memories for Coach Mackenzie. Sharing stories of the ball with his family and how this was the ball he grew up playing with in the St. Louis area, it was neat to hear those stories."
Reeves will tell stories of Mackenzie for years to come.
"When you have a mentor like Coach Mackenzie, it gave me the opportunity to have someone understand the game so well inside and out to learn from," said Reeves, who had the privilege of being with Mackenzie when the coach was inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Hall of Fame in 2014.
"There's nobody you can learn more from than Jack Mackenzie. That gave me a head start. That gave me such a head start in the game. Jack was never one to tell you to do this or do that. As long as he saw you improving as a player and benefitting the team, he allowed you to flourish and allowed you to expand your game."
The ability to that is what Reeves found so alluring about soccer.
"The freedom to go out and express yourself, your ability and your skill is what really attracted me to the game," Reeves said. "Watching former Quincy College standout Klaus Sandstrom play, he played with a little bit of a flair and calmness. His skill level was top-notch. I just really enjoyed that part of the game."
Moreso, it created a passion that remains as strong as ever.