Following in stride

New head coach takes over after mentor’s death

The+team+renamed+their+annual+Marcus+Invitational+to+the+Coach+T+Invitational+to+honor+previous+head+coach+Steve+Telaneus+%28left%29.+It+will+take+place+on+Oct.+10+at+North+Lake+Park+in+Denton.+The+first+race+starts+at+7%3A30+a.m.+

Photo submitted by Andrew Reinberg

The team renamed their annual Marcus Invitational to the Coach T Invitational to honor previous head coach Steve Telaneus (left). It will take place on Oct. 10 at North Lake Park in Denton. The first race starts at 7:30 a.m.

Head Cross Country, Track and Field Coach Andrew Reinberg took over the program after long-time coach Steve Telaneus died on April 30. (Maya Hernandez)

If anyone glanced through the window of the cross country team’s bus in July 2016, they wouldn’t have seen anything special. 

They were on their way home after training in the Woodlands. Athletes leaned across the seats to joke with one another. Others stared at their phones with earbuds in. The coaches sat together up front, preoccupied with their own conversation.

They could have been any high school team on any highway in the country. But that bus was where everything changed for Head Cross Country, Track and Field Coach Andrew Reinberg. 

It was only a couple of months after he left behind a head coaching position at a strong program to be an assistant coach at the school. He would be working with Head Coach Steve Telaneus, a legend in the cross country world. He had already coached several state champions.

However, Reinberg couldn’t help but question if he made the right decision to take the job as he sat down next to the hall of fame coach.

The two men only had a few quick conversations before due to their busy summer training schedules. But once they pulled out of the parking lot, Reinberg and Telaneus had four hours to talk about what mattered most to them — their faith. 

As the bus reached Flower Mound, Reinberg knew one thing. Destiny placed him in that seat next to Telaneus, who later became like a father to him.

“I felt like this is a calling,” Reinberg said. “Like this is a place that God wanted because of the conversations and the relationship that I had with Coach T.”

• • •

Reinberg’s love for running began at an early age. He grew up looking for any excuse to race his friends, later competing in high school and coaching in college. Reinberg worked as the head coach at Carrollton Ranchview for three years and at Plano West for two years before Telaneus hired him. 

“I have always been super competitive but at this point now, running is a way of life,” Reinberg said. “Obviously it keeps you in shape, but it’s also very good for just meditating and finding a way to get away and destress.”

After spending countless hours talking about running and their families, Reinberg and Telaneus quickly formed a close friendship. Reinberg learned the ins and outs of coaching that helped Telaneus win awards. He also embraced “love and respect,” which are the words Telaneus lived by. 

Head Cross Country, Track and Field Coach Andrew Reinberg reviews data from the team’s morning run off of a runner’s phone. (Maya Hernandez)

Reinberg saw the type of man he wanted to be.

“He was just a very open person,” Reinberg said. “A very loving person. I can’t imagine working with anybody better than him.”

Reinberg was named as the new head coach in May, almost exactly four years after the bus ride, when Telaneus died suddenly on April 30.

“I feel like obviously I have very, very big shoes to fill, but early on the community and the school and even the athletes, everybody’s been super supportive and bought in,” Reinberg said. “It’s been a pretty smooth transition.”

However, Reinberg said that this will still be a challenging year due to changes brought by COVID-19. This year less teams will be able to participate in invitationals and qualify for the regional and state meets. LISD is also one of the most competitive districts in Texas. Reinberg has relied heavily on the lessons Telaneus taught him, especially while facing the new safety regulations. 

“He always used to tell me, ‘Trust yourself. Trust with your abilities,’ so sometimes I’ll hear that,” Reinberg said. “I’ll be thinking about things, like we should do it this way or this way, and in the back of my head, I hear Coach T say, ‘You got it. Just do it.’” 

Senior and varsity cross country runner Josh Clark said that it was obvious Reinberg learned everything he could from the legendary coach, just like the athletes.

“R was like our buddy,” Clark said. “He was one of us in a lot of ways.”

Clark also said that Reinberg has always had a good relationship with the athletes. He spent time at the beginning of the school year with individual runners to discuss their goals for the season and to see how they were handling the changes brought by the virus and Telaneus’ death. 

“We’re all buddies in cross country,” Clark said. “We talk and chat. We crack jokes, especially with Coach R. Coach R has always had a great sense of humor.”

According to Clark, Reinberg also got in contact with local schools and set up races at the start of the season. 

“He’s doing a really good job,” Clark said. “He’s flexible enough to work with all the changes and stuff.”

Reinberg’s said his main goal for the season isn’t collecting trophies or breaking records. When he looks back on his first year as head coach, he wants to know he helped his athletes become the best version of themselves, just like Telaneus did for him and the kids they coached together.

“I would be honored to have the same track record as Coach T,” Reinberg said. “I may or may not get to that point, but if I do anything like Coach T, it would be impact the lives of my athletes and teach them how to be good people.”