The time is now for Andrew Reichenbach at Newberg baseball
As a first-team all-state catcher at Newberg, Andrew Reichenbach always thought he would get into coaching after pursuing a pro baseball career.
"I hoped it would be later than sooner because I would be done playing later," he said. "But that didn't work out."
So sooner it is. At 25, Reichenbach has been hired as the new head coach at Newberg, where he graduated in 2013. He becomes the Tigers' seventh coach since 2011, succeeding Trey Watt, who coached the team for one season before accepting a spot on the staff at the University of Portland.
"I'm very thankful for them taking a chance on a young guy," Reichenbach said. "One thing they wanted was someone to stick around because there's been a lot of coaching changes. I'm in the community and I want to stay here and help the kids grow."
Reichenbach was one of the top players ever to go through the Newberg program. He was the Pacific Conference player of the year as a senior, when he hit a league-leading .494.
He spent one season at Mt. Hood Community College before playing three seasons at George Fox University. A two-time Northwest Conference first-team pick, he was named second-team All-West Region by D3Baseball.com as a junior. His baseball career ended with a two-year stint in the West Coast League, a collegiate summer league.
"I wanted to get drafted, but it didn't work out," he said. "I was disappointed. I had a pretty bad senior year at George Fox, which was tough."
Reichenbach was working as an accountant when Watt, one of his coaches from George Fox, landed the Newberg job in 2019 and asked him to join the staff. Reichenbach became an assistant with the Tigers in 2019, and after Watt left this fall, he was promoted to head coach.
"I'm very blessed and grateful for the opportunity," he said. "I've been around the kids for the last two years. I'm a familiar face, and having someone that they're used to and comfortable with is definitely going to help going into an unsure time next season."
Baseball has been an integral part of Reichenbach's life from an early age. His father, J.R., assisted at George Fox for 15 seasons before stepping down during Andrew's junior year at Newberg.
Other major influences on Reichenbach include former George Fox coaches Marty Hunter, Pat Bailey and Pat Casey — the latter two going on to coach at Oregon State. He also has learned from George Fox assistant Randy Rutschman, the father of former Sherwood and Oregon State star Adley Rutschman.
"I had some great mentors and coaches over the years to help me out," Reichenbach said.
He said Watt "helped me with the first step" of his coaching career.
"He wanted me to help out because he knew I was a Newberg guy and I love this community, and I would love to give back, help out," Reichenbach said. "It's very special to be able to go back and serve those kids. There are kids I've seen play baseball since they were little so it's cool to see them grow up."
Watt coached the Tigers through this past summer and into the fall season before stepping down. Reichenbach took over the team for the last few weeks of fall ball.
Newberg hasn't had a winning season since 2012, when Reichenbach helped lead the Tigers to the Class 6A state quarterfinals. They went 2-24 in 2018 and 4-22 in 2019.
"I think we were actually primed to have a really good second season in 2020," Reichenbach said. "We had some really good players, a lot of good seniors. This year, I think we'll have a good squad. With me stepping in, I think they' re more comfortable than they would be if an outsider was stepping in, kind of like in the past."
Reichenbach and his wife Ashley, a 2014 Newberg graduate, recently bought a house in Newberg. He has been working with special needs students at a middle school in the district.
Reichenbach is hopeful that the baseball program can upgrade its facilities, in particular by adding artificial turf. He also intends to build on the connection that Watt established with youth programs.
"Trey made that one of his goals, to kind of unite the youth and high school, get them on the same page," he said. "This fall, we ran seventh- and eighth-grade practices with their coaches so when they get to high school, they're ready and not trying to learn a new system, and they're familiar with the coaches."
— Jerry Ulmer writes for OSAAtoday
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.