Less than a week before the Eagles kick off their inaugural game, JoEllen Wilson, the university’s vice president for advancement, said that has certainly happened — but in a good way.
While introducing coach Danny Cronic to those gathered at the Rotary Club of Canton’s weekly lunch meeting, Wilson said the change is due largely to Cronic.
“Alumni and trustees did ask us when we started football — ‘Is football going to change the culture of Reinhardt?’” Wilson said. “It has. Opening day of classes this year, when parents were coming in, on the front at the gym were a bunch of football players in coats and ties, sitting in that front row. Then next day at the worship service, all around the Falany Performing Arts Center were football players in coats and ties. Last Friday, when we had the freshman honor pledge, all the football players were there in coats and ties. Yes, it has changed the culture of Reinhardt for the better and that is because of this man.”
Cronic is no stranger to Cherokee County, or coaching. He got his start in coaching at Cherokee High School — then the only high school in the county — in 1974. He went on to spend 30 years coaching at the prep level at schools such as LaGrange, Forsyth Central and East Coweta.
Cronic, however, said he always wanted to be a head coach at the college level, and for that, he returned to Cherokee County. He did admit, though, that it may have not been a good thing that he didn’t fulfill his dream of coaching at the college level until he was 66 years old and, as he put it, “had his priorities just right.”
“The kids are the priority, and them getting better,” Cronic said. “Now, I want to win, and I’m fired up about winning. But I understand now, more than ever, that it is the relationships that you have.”
Cronic said he looks for players who build relationships and will cut ones who cause division in the team.
“When you write a rule down on paper, there are always going to be exceptions to it, but it boils down to giving folks another chance,” Cronic said. “Then, you get rid of the rotten apple when it’s spoiling the whole bunch. You just hope you don’t find too many rotten apples.”
So far, Cronic said the crop of players who have come out at Reinhardt has been good. Several of the initial 160 who were out for the team have left, causing the school to invite another 10 players to try out. However, the number dropped again with about 130 players now out for the team.
Of those, only 68 will make the actually roster. Most will receive partial scholarships, as the university is limited in how much aid is it allowed to give out.
“Some of our players are working jobs to pay for the rest of their education,” Cronic said. “These are hard-working young men, and we want the community to support them.”