Cross Country Looks To Keep Momentum Going With New Coach

“I’m not sure what’s going on,” Davis Christy ‘24 said. At the end of East Grand Rapids Cross Country’s previous season, Dan Rietberg stepped down from his position as coach, which he held for three years. A new coach has not been found yet, and team members are getting anxious.

Rietberg chose to step down because he no longer could commit as much time to the sport due to his recent marriage, becoming a dog dad, and that “a high school cross country coach wasn’t his end-goal for life,” Camryn Bodine ‘23 said. Since starting in sixth grade, Bodine has run six cross country seasons and is going to be the captain of the girl’s team next year. 

Rietberg coached her for four years, eighth grade through eleventh grade, in which she was able to get to know him very well. As a future captain who will have to work closely with the new coach, she hopes that the new coach will be able to retain the “culture of the cross country team.”

“In the next coach, I just want to see the amount of dedication that Dan put in,” she said. Rietberg would attend all winter training practices unpaid and was involved in any way that he could be and brought the team together. “He was fun to talk to. He always wanted to know about our lives and how we were doing.”

“I’m really going to miss Dan,” Eli Robinson ‘23 said. Robinson is going to be a captain of the boy’s team next year. “I really liked Dan. He brought the team together and made it a community. It’s going to be interesting to see where the team goes without him. It depends on who the new coach is, but I just want to keep the same culture that we had when Dan was here, and that cross country is welcoming to everyone.”

Something else that Rietberg added to the team that Robinson said would be hard to replace, was his ability to recognize medical issues and work with his athletes to resolve them. “Dan also had a knack for identifying problems, and I’ll miss that. My freshman year Dan noticed that I had some symptoms of iron deficiency, which it turns out I did have,” Robinson said. 

There is also some tentative speculation as to who will replace Reitberg as the new coach. Larry Fisher, who is the long-distance track coach, is who some believe may apply. “I’m not sure, but he is my prediction,” said Bodine. 

Anticipation for the new coach is rising with the next season quickly approaching. While it isn’t clear who will take his spot, the positive impact he left is unequivocal. “He was always there. He just really cared about the runner,” said Robinson.

This article appeared in the February edition of The East Vision.