By STEVE KRAH
Jonathan Reinebold has gotten the opportunity to run a collegiate baseball program for the first time at 59.
The 1981 graduate of South Bend (Ind.) Clay High School who served 20 years in the U.S. Army after earning four baseball letters as a middle infielder at West Point and coaching in various capacities and on different continents over the decades — including Europe and Japan — is now leading the Wildcats of North Dakota State College of Science.
“The opportunity knocked and I had to answer it,” says Reinebold.
Founded in 1903, NDSCS (enrollment 2,942) is one of the oldest two-year, comprehensive, residential colleges in the nation.
“It’s a very good trade school,” says Reinebold. “It’s nationally-acclaimed. You can also get in your first two years toward (liberal arts) bachelor’s degree.”
The main campus is located in Wahpeton, N.D., which is on the North Dakota-Minnesota state line and the Red River. There is a second location in Fargo, N.D., located about 50 miles to the north.
NDSCS is a member of the National Junior College Athletic Association and Mon-Dak Athletic Conference. John Randall Field faces the river. Reinebold’s assistant coach is Jack Junker.
Reinebold served as an assistant baseball coach and volunteer mental skills coach at Kauai’s Waimea High School.
Jonathan Reinebold was a volunteer coach at West Point while serving an internship in the Intern Center for Enhanced Performance and an assistant the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.
He also been a head coach in England and Florida and an assistant in Florida and Indiana, helping brother Joel Reinebold at Clay and Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Famer Greg Dikos at Penn High School.
Reinebold earned his Certified Mental Performance Consulting credentials from the Association for Applied Sports Psychology and holds master’s degrees from Adams State University (Applied Sports Psychology) in Alamosa, Colo., St. John’s University (Sports Management) in Queens, N.Y., and American Military University (Unconventional Warfare).
Most of those were earned with a future as a college baseball coach in mind.
“I knew (the Sports Psychology and Sports Management degrees) would help my resume and would also be practical,” says Reinebold. “The military paid for them.”
Reinebold had long wanted to lead a college baseball program, but did not seek it in earnest until his children were out of school.
Samantha Reinebold (27) graduated from Alconbury High School in England, competed in track and field at USMMA and is now an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.
Jesse Reinebold (25) is an alum of Edwardsburg (Mich.) High School who played baseball at the USMMA, where he hit .351 with 85 runs batted in over 138 games, and is now in the U.S. Marines.
Jonathan splits his year between North Dakota and Kekaha, Kauai.
Jonathan and wife Julie (who was in the Army for 26 years) moved to the Hawaiian island four years ago.
“When mom and dad died it was a wake-up call,” says Jonathan of the decision to relocate from Florida. “We only had one shot at it.
“It’s absolutely wonderful out here.”
Jonathan is also the youngest of five children born to Jim and Evelyn Reinebold, who passed away in 2017 at age 87 and 2018 at 88.
Jimmy, Jeff, Jamie, Joel and Jonathan were all born in a seven-year span and were all at Swanson Elementary at the same time.
After coming out of retirement, Jimmy (James Jr.) Reinebold performs test flights for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Jeff Reinebold is in his second stint on the University of Hawaii football coaching staff.
Jamie Reinebold — the girl who separates the two sets of boys — is a social worker in South Bend.
Joel Reinebold is head baseball coach at Clay and is a groundskeeper for Saint Mary’s College and spruces up many other diamonds.
Jim Reinebold Sr., was a founder of the IHSBCA and went into its first Hall of Fame class in 1979. He won 646 games at the high school level with a state championship for Clay in 1970 and spent many years in pro baseball. In 1993, he established Jim Reinebold Fall Baseball Camp and Jonathan has been an instructor.
His influences show in his coaching philosophy.
“I am my father’s son so it’s about defense and pitching,” says Reinebold. “Catch the ball and throw the ball. That’s the essence of the game. You’re not going to give up the extra bases, freebies if you will. You can’t out-hit your defense. You see that in the World Series every year.
“Pitching is nothing more than playing catch.”
Reinebold also wants his athletes to “play free.”
“The game’s hard enough,” says Reinebold. “You don’t need a coach getting on you if you make a physical mistake.”
To prepare his players, Reinebold builds failure into every practice.
“It sound strange but if you’re not failing, you’re not stretching yourself,” says Reinebold. “You have to fail in practice to win in a game.”
On the mental side, Reinebold emphasizes stress management techniques and breathing.
“Everybody breaths but do you do it for your advantage?,” says Reinebold. “You take a nice deep breath before you step into the batter’s box or on the mound.
“What are you saying to yourself? Is it positive or negative? Most of the times it’s negative. We can restructure that a little bit so it’s positive. Are you imagining things that can help you or possibly hurt you?
“Let’s see ourselves succeeding. Let’s see ourselves doing well. Let’s also see ourselves failing how we’re going to deal with it.”
The first 10 minutes of each practice is spent on mental exercises and learning how to re-focus when necessary.
Reinebold, who was hired in late July, has not yet had a recruiting season at NDSCS, and is working with a roster of 20. The Wildcats had six scrimmages in this fall.
The NDSCS athletic department allows one out-of-region trip during the season.The 2023 slate for Reinebold and company starts the second week of March in St. Petersburg, Fla.
An NDSCS Baseball page on YouTube and Facebook and has been used by Reinebold to get out the word about the program and introduce his players.
“I need to get them out there and make them a little uncomfortable because that’s the only way you grow,” says Reinebold. “Speaking in front of other people is hard to do, especially on a video call.”