Rineer moving on from Heritage School
by Chris Goltermann
Only one coach at The Heritage School could have remembered what it had been like for a boys soccer team to play in the GISA State Semifinals prior to Wednesday’s trip to the Class AAA Final Four.
Getting there became common for both of Heritage’s varsity soccer programs under head coach Ron Rineer.
Rineer, who guided teams to three trips to the GISA Final Four including state-runner up finishes for the Lady Hawks in 2010 and 2012, is stepping down from his longtime duties as girls soccer coach as well as those as Heritage’s athletic director to pursue other opportunities in education.
“One of the greatest things you can do as a coach is leave a program in better shape than when you picked it up. That’s the ultimate testament,” Rineer said. “ I feel very good that everything’s in place. There’s expectations. Nobody has to come in and build things from scratch. And the way we went out [of the playoffs] I think there will be a burning desire inside them next year.”
The Heritage School coach, who arrived from LaGrange High following seven years in a public school atmosphere hinted following the Lady Hawks’ disappointing 2-1 first-round playoff loss in overtime to Tattnall Square at home that it would be his final season in Newnan.
“It’s bittersweet. We hadn’t lost a first round game since I have been here, so I wasn’t planning for that to be my last game,” he said. “We played as well a game as could have been expected for us. Afterwards I told them I wish there was something I could be angry about, but there wasn’t. If we had painted the goals, there would have been at least five spots on the ball. It’s just not normal for that to happen to us.”
Rineer was 92-20-3 over eight seasons with the Lady Hawks, whose list of All-State players included all-time leading scorer Emily Gray Powell. This year’s girls had a string of six consecutive region championships snapped despite finishing without a loss this season in regulation. A 10-3 lineup lost in twice in overtime and once in penalty kicks, all by one-goal margins.
“I had a lot of GISA coaches come to me and ask how we weren’t still playing,” Rineer said. “We’ve had some real good soccer players come through and you can see that this group is equally talented. Every year since some of these girls have been in sixth grade, we’ve been the region champions.
All of those lineups continued to advance include a pair that eventually reached state title games. In both instances, Heritage ran smack into Frederica Academy and current United States women’s national player Morgan Brian.
Rineer credited former coach John Gray and current assistant Mike Johnson with taking some of the burden off coaching both of Heritage’s boys and girls teams starting around 2010. Prior to that, the Hawks program had reached the GISA Final Four in 2006 and reached the Elite 8 in 2007 before a seven-year hiatus in the postseason.
“Mike Johnson has been fantastic. He and I are opposites, which is good. He’d be happy winning a game 1-0 while I’d rather win 6-2 or something like that,” Rineer said. “We work off each other well.”
Rineer, who informed his team the Monday following the loss to Tattnall, said his players over the past seven-plus years have been as much an influence to him.
“I hope I’ve had an impact on my players lives as much as they’ve had an impact on me,” he added.