College Football

Still in the Game: Reichert returns to West Point to help Army football program

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 6, 2020 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Zach Reichert's return to West Point, N.Y., and the United States Military Academy opened his eyes to a world beyond the classroom and the football field.

"When you're here, you don't care a lot about anything else," said Reichert, the Quincy Notre Dame graduate who started as an offensive lineman for Army as a senior in 2013. "You're just thinking, I have to pass this class. I just need to make the right block on this play.'"

The picturesque background and historic statues, monuments and forts dating back to the Revolutionary War truly are an afterthought.

"When you're here as a player and a student, you take for granted a lot of what's around you," Reichert said. "There's so much history here."

Since joining the Army football staff last year as assistant director of football operations, Reichert and his wife, Laura, have soaked in as much of the atmosphere as they can or as much as his hectic schedule allows.

"We've walked around the campus more than I ever did as a cadet and taken in all the history," Reichert said as the couple prepares to welcome their first child in August. "Not only the history, but it's a great setting here with the mountains dropping down to the Hudson River."

There's no better place to learn whether the coaching lifestyle fits.

A 2014 West Point graduate who completed the field artillery captains career course in 2018 while serving at Fort Sill, Okla., Reichert considered a football-related job as a career option when his playing career ended. Such an opportunity opened in December 2018.

"I had always been in contact with those here, expressing interest," Reichert said. "That December, they asked if I was still interested."

He couldn't pass that up.

"I wanted to know what it's like, what it feels like and get a good gauge on it to see if that's something I wanted to do," Reichert said. "At the very least, if I did decide it was something I didn't want to do for the rest of my life, it was with Army football. That's my home and brotherhood right there."

What he's discovered throughout the past year is he thoroughly enjoys his role.

As assistant director of football operations, Reichert is expected to be a logistical guru who helps coordinate the Cadets' travel, hotel stays and a variety of other aspects every week throughout the season.

"It's a behind-the-scenes type of deal," Reichert said. "It's all logistics."

Reichert's responsibilities including setting up buses for home and road games and flights if needed, coordinating with hotels to ensure they have breakout rooms ready for position meetings and lining up food service.

He travels to the site of a road game up to three days prior to the game to help set up at the stadium and coordinate with the opposing staff when the Black Knights can do a walk-through, when they need to be on the field gameday, where they can set up food if they're going to do a postgame or post-practice meal and coordinate police escorts if necessary.

"It's really a pretty busy week when you pack that into a game week," Reichert said.

And there are weeks when even the best laid plans go awry. Reichert has to be able to adjust quickly when that occurs.

"You always have a Plan B," Reichert said. "You have to have a Plan B in case you need to move somewhere or change because of weather."

No matter which way it goes, he thrives.

His training has guaranteed that.

Following graduation, Reichert spent three years at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he served as a fire direction officer, a fire support officer and an executive officer until December 2017. Then it was off to Fort Sill, where his field artillery training came into play.

As part of his military duties, Reichert works with canons, rockets and weapons systems that can shoot out to 30 kilometers or 20-25 miles.

"I'm using the logistical experience I gained as a field artillery officer to help facilitate success here with the football program," Reichert said.

The similarities between the two jobs are quite extensive, even if it might not appear that way on the surface.

"You are responsible for a lot of what gets done and a lot of it is done behind the scenes," Reichert said. "With football, you're ensuring people are getting fed and getting a good night's sleep. In the military, you make sure they have their ammunition, they're in the right location, they know where we're moving to next.

"They play hand-in-hand. It's just a different type of planning."

It's all done for the brotherhood Reichert values deeply.

"I'm happy to do what I can to help," Reichert said. "I know everybody is. This is the way I found to help. I'm proud of being around some great people and learn from some truly great leaders. I hope one day to try to be like them as much as possible."