Reichenberg, Franklin H.S. Class of ’09, named softball coach of GA. college | Sports

We try hard here at the Citizen’s Sports Desk to keep track of our local athletes once they leave the friendly confines of Elk Grove, head to college and -for the most fortunate- move on to the professional level. At times, we’re reminded several of our top athletes have gone into the coaching ranks where many times they dwell a bit out of the limelight but contribute the same long hours to their sport and their team as those who play for them.

In the past we’ve noted the accomplishment of men such as Ryan Dinwiddie, perhaps the best quarterback we’ve seen in this city, now the head coach of the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League. He opened his second season at the helm last Thursday with a 20-19 win over Montreal.

Also, we’ve recently noted in San Luis Obispo two other former Elk Grove Unified graduates are now coaching in the college football ranks. Former Herd linebacker Josh Letuligasenoa and Monterey Trail running back Drake Tofi are both on the defensive coaching staff at Cal Poly.

A rush linebacker and defensive end at Cal Poly from 2012-16, Letuligasenoa began his coaching career at his alma mater in April 2019, coaching the outside linebackers. He is one of three Letuligasenoa brothers to play football at Cal Poly — Lefi as an offensive lineman and Noah as a linebacker.

Tofi, a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, and a standout running back and defensive back at Monterey Trail High School and American River College, has joined the Cal Poly football staff in charge of defensive quality control. Toffee rushed for nearly 4,000 yards. including 17 games of 100 or more yards, in his varsity career at Monterey Trail High School. His career high was a 303-yard effort versus Laguna Creek, scoring four touchdowns.

north georgia mountain country

In the beautiful rolling hill country of northern Georgia, one will find Truett McConnell University, a private Christian school in the city of Cleveland. Recently, the Bears announced that Dylan Reichenberg will be his new women’s softball coach.

Reichenberg was a 2009 graduate of Franklin High School who played baseball collegiately, first at Lassen College in Susanville and later at Truett McConnell from 2011-2014.

After graduation, I have coached both baseball and softball at Cambridge High School in Milton, GA., while also teaching in the Special Education Department (In Georgia, girls softball is a fall sport). His 2016 girls team went 38-1 and won the Georgia State 6A Championship.

He returned to Truett McConnell in 2018 to be an assistant women’s softball coach and alongside head coach Jenni Shepard won the Appalachian Athletic Conference championship. They’ve qualified for three NAIA softball playoffs. When Shepard stepped down to become the school’s athletic director, Reichenberg was offered the job.

Recently, he was back in Elk Grove a couple weeks ago to see his mother. The previous weekend Reichenberg was the best man in former Franklin teammate Jason Merjano’s wedding. We talked fondly of his Franklin Wildcat baseball teams of 2008 and 2009. His best friend, then and now, is Josh Silver who was a talented infielder at Franklin, played a year at San Jose State, but came back to Elk Grove and was a member of the 2012 Cosumnes River College team. That was the Tony Bloomfield-coached squad that, despite not having a home field to play on, still won the CCCAA State Championship. During that time CRC was building the softball/baseball/soccer complex which the Hawks now use. “Home” games were played at American River College.

“He now lives in Houston, Texas, where he lives with his wife and eight-month-old son,” Reichenberg informed us.

Both Merjano and Silver played two seasons with the River City Rascals in O’Fallon, Missouri, an independent pro baseball team.

The three played for coach Mike Cody at Franklin. Reichenberg was a backup infielder to both Silver and Merjano.

At Truett McConnell he met his wife, Whitley, and they now have a nine-month-old girl, Nora.

They’ve settled in well in Georgia and now, as the head coach, he’s out recruiting talent to play softball for him.

“When I am recruiting girls, it’s all about what is the right fit – small school, large school, academics,” Reichenberg said.

One of his first freshman recruits is coming to Truett McConnell from Huntington Beach.

“That was a big deal for me because California is obviously full of talent,” he said. “If I can create some sort of a pipeline of girls wanting to come to us in the South, that would be good.”

But Reichenberg knows the key to building a college program is establishing a good relationship with his players as he meets them and begins the recruiting process.

“Sure, the girls want to select a school based on academics and athletic performance, but if you really get down to the nails of it, it’s the relationships they build with the coaches through the recruiting process,” he explained.

He also reasons with his recruits the reality of whether they’ll get playing time at a large school, such as Oklahoma and Texas, recently NCAA Women’s World Series finalists, as opposed to coming to a small school such as Truett McConnell and play right away .

“You have those honest conversations with them and if they see your honesty, they trust you,” Reichenberg said.

Being a NAIA college coach, he doesn’t have access to the recently established “transfer portal” whereby NCAA athletes can “make themselves available” to other colleges. That, Reichenberg said, is changing the complexion of the recruiting process for all college sports.

“I won’t say the transfer portal will eliminate high school recruiting, but it is going to diminish it significantly where you’ll see a school bring in one, maybe two, high school girls a year,” he claimed. “But, down the road, the NAIA and (junior college) coaches will benefit because of this.

Chriss traded to Houston

The Golden State Warriors are, once again, NBA champions and in case you didn’t recall, there’s been two EGUSD athletes play for the Warriors. Marquese Chriss of Pleasant Grove High School played in the Bay Area during the first half of the 2019-2020 season. He averaged 7.3 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. After being traded to San Antonio in 2021, he was waived, later signed by Portland but last fall was cut Oct. 16 and picked up by Dallas.

On June 15 he was part of a package deal that sent him from Dallas to Houston. The Mavericks agreed to acquire Christian Wood from the Houston Rockets for Boban Marjanovic, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke, Chriss and the No. 26 pick. The next day, Chriss underwent knee surgery which will sideline him for the summer.

The other local graduate to play for the Warriors was Sheldon high-scorer DeMarcus Nelson. Nelson graduated from Sheldon in 2004 and played four seasons at Duke. Nelson was not drafted by the NBA in 2008 but was signed by Golden State and became the first undrafted rookie to start on opening night in the history of the league. By November that season he ended up in the development league and eventually was cut by Golden State in January, 2009. But, that began at least 11 seasons of playing for professional basketball teams in Europe and Asia for Nelson.

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