Rheinschmidt travels long distance to help Mediapolis
CEDAR RAPIDS, Nov 09, 2012 (The Hawk Eye - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
If Steve Rheinschmidt doesn't have frequent-flyer miles built up, he will.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
Since taking a job in just outside of Denver, Colo., in September, Rheinschmidt's presence on the Mediapolis High School volleyball team's bench has been limited. Yet, whenever something has been on the line this season, he hasn't missed a game, even if he lives 860 miles away.
"This is all for the kids. They're the ones who deserve the spotlight," said Rheinschmidt, who spent the previous 17 seasons alongside head coach Dennis Jandrey. "At the end of the day, it's easy to see why I do it. These are special kids."
Rheinschmidt is a volunteer assistant for the Bullettes, and had been off and on throughout his tenure. He was with the team during the preseason and during its first tournament before breaking it to the players and coaches that he wouldn't be a mainstay this season.
"When I told the kids, they handled it so well," Rheinschmidt said. "They're such a mature group. They weren't any different than the adults were. They were happy for me."
Rheinschmidt made his return at the SEI Superconference tournament, where the Bullettes beat Holy Trinity for the championship. He then returned for the Cedar Rapids Prairie tournament, and the Class 3A regional final against Davis County. Now, he his here for the duration of the state tournament, which will last until at least today after the Bullettes' thrilling come-from-behind victory over Iowa Falls-Alden in five games.
"That was a special match. Winning your first match makes the tournament an experience," he said. "You get to scout another opponent and get ready for another match. It's a lot of fun."
For years, Rheinschmidt was the "technical" part of the coaching staff. He was the one to watch video to find tendencies in the opponent. He hasn't been completely out of the loop, however; Jandrey has sent him some video after doing his least-favorite part of the job.
"I've never liked the videotaping and watching it," Jandrey said. "I've sent him some video. He's been with us for 17 years. When he comes back, it's almost like he's always been there. The kids know him as well as any of us do."
Rheinschmidt works for education-based Pearson, and specializes in online education on a nationwide basis. He used to work as Director of Iowa Community College Online Consortium at Southeastern Community College.
He didn't have to tell his employers much about his passion for volleyball.
"I knew the people well enough, but I didn't make it a stipulation with the job," he said. "They understood. It's a very family-oriented company, and they understood my background and what the program meant to me. I just blocked off days I could return."
"I'm blessed with great assistants, and we're very fortunate that the company (Rhino) works for allows him to do this," Jandrey said. "We'll probably send them a thank-you card for that."
Rheinschmidt admitted he will not do it again next year.
"The travel isn't so much the challenge," he said. "Being away from the kids is the challenge. I knew before the season started this was going to happen, but the best thing to happen was after winning the regional final and the kids gave me a hug.
"That's what's special about it."
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