GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Despite spending most of the past decade living, playing, and coaching football in North Dakota, Carl Reinholz still has a lot of Montanan in him.
His phone number still begins with 406.
“When I got out here five years ago and they started paying for my phone, they asked me if I wanted to change my number to a North Dakota one,” Reinhiolz said. “I said no way.”
Reinholz, who grew up in Molt and graduated from Rapelje High School in the Treasure State has spent the past five years on the coaching staff at the University of North Dakota. He started as a volunteer assistant and has worked his way into a full-time gig as the Fighting Hawks’ inside linebackers coach and video coordinator.
“It’s been really good,” he said. “Obviously being in Grand Forks, there’s tradition, man. They’re pretty proud of this place. And working for head coach (Bubba) Schweigert and (defensive coordinator Eric) Schmidt, there’s a lot of guys that have a lot of years invested in this place. You can just tell that it means something, and coming to work every day for guys like that makes it a lot easier for sure.”
But Reinholz took a roundabout route into coaching. After Reed Point-Rapelje fell to Geraldine 37-36 in the second round of the 2007 6-Man playoffs, Reinholz thought his football career was over.
Then Minot State called.
“Bill Triplett was a high school basketball coach in Reed Point for a long time, and he played at Minot back in the day,” Reinholz said. “And right before my senior year, he left Reed Point to go to Minot to be an assistant women’s basketball coach. And I think he passed my name along to coach Paul Rudolph, and then it kind of went from there.”
After four years as a wide receiver for the Beavers, Reinholz was still at a loss as to what to do with the rest of his life. But he knew he liked football.
“I was going to be a teacher, but then I decided that wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do,” he said. “So I hung out in the football office long enough and started to understand what it took, and when I got done playing I was a student coach at Minot for a year. And then I came to North Dakota, and then it kind of just fell into place.”
Like many Montanans, Reinholz picked a side in the Cat-Griz rivalry. He rooted for Montana, for one very specific reason.
“I probably shouldn’t say this,” he laughed, “but I was always a Bobby Hauck fan. That was the tiebreaker for me. I remember growing up and watching all those games, and proximity-wise I wanted to lean towards being a Cats fan, but I think when it comes down to it I was always a Griz fan.”
This week, Reinholz will lead his unit against his childhood hero. With Bobby Hauck back in the fold at Montana and the Grizzlies coming to Grand Forks Saturday, does the former Reed Point-Rapelje Renegade find a little extra meaning behind this game?
“I think the first time we went out to Missoula a couple years ago I thought that was pretty cool, but now it’s just kind of turned into another game,” he said. “We tell our guys every week, we got to worry about the guys in this room. Yeah, maybe there’s a little bit extra, but we still have to get the guys in this office ready to roll. So that’s kind of the mindset there.
“Montana has kind of been a thorn in our side for a number of years, so there’s maybe a little bit of added encouragement, incentive or whatever. We’ve had a good week of prep to iron some things out and get ready for tomorrow.”
Montana and North Dakota kick off at noon MST at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.