Reinagel family continues to help Notre Dame softball
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --For Notre Dame senior Holly Reinagel, family members have been coaching her softball teams for as long as she can remember.
Even when Reinagel got to high school that dynamic didn't change with assistant coach Ray Reinagel, Holly's cousin, working alongside head coach Jeff Graviett.
Friday night, Holly and Ray shared the same dugout one last time in the Bulldogs' 4-1 win in the MSHSAA Class 3 third-place game.
"We have this close relationship because my grandpa and him were really close," Holly said after the game of Ray and her grandfather, who is no longer living. "[Ray] considered him like a second dad. ... My grandpa means everything to me. It's really cool to have that connection."
Coaching family is nothing new to Ray. He coached two daughters at Notre Dame, including Lauren, a three-time Southeast Missourian Player of the Year. Lauren's last season was 2009, and she still holds school records in wins, ERA, strikeouts, innings pitcher, shutouts and no-hitters.
Holly was normally the Bulldogs' designated player this year, which meant she was in the batting lineup and didn't play defense. One of nine seniors on the roster, Holly finished the season with a .272 average and four doubles.
Both Ray and Holly live in Kelso and often see each other outside of school. After practices, Ray would give Holly a few pointers on hitting.
"You can definitely see he wants her to excel, as he wants everyone to excel," senior Abby Rollet said. "But she'll stay after practice, and they'll have talks, and they'll go out to the tee and work, I want to say every week, from one to three times a week. You can just really see how much he wants her to succeed. It's really awesome."
Ray provides a calming presence for other Bulldogs, such as Rollet. Before crucial postseason at-bats this season, Rollet said coach Reinagel helped her relax.
The roots of that calming influence stretch back to last fall.
Rollet transferred to Notre Dame from St. Vincent before her junior year. As she recovered from a torn ACL, the left fielder was limited to mostly hitting in tryouts. She immediately impressed Ray at the plate, and the relationship between the newcomer and the veteran coach continued to blossom.
"He saw me hit, and from then on he had confidence in me the entire time," Rollet said. "I totally trusted him from that point. He told me from the very first days of practice that I was going to be a diamond in the [rough]. I'm just glad he had that confidence in because transferring, that's huge, and without coach Ray I don't think I would be as strong as I am right now."
After spending countless hours with Rollet, Holly and the seven other seniors, Ray was simply happy they got to end their high school careers with a win Friday. The victory followed a heartbreaking semifinal walk-off loss earlier that day and allowed Notre Dame to end the season on a joyous note.
"You develop over the course of four years that you're with these girls, you develop not just a softball relationship but a personal relationship," Ray said. "You find out all their little things: what they want to do, where they want to go and what they want to do with their lives. It becomes a little bit more personal at the end, like right here, and to see them win at the end was really gratifying."