Rinker retiring as Central athletic director at end of school year

Central High School athletic director Kenny Rinker looks on during a football game this season. Rinker is retiring at the end of the school year. Rich Cooley/Daily

WOODSTOCK — After almost 40 years teaching, coaching and, most recently, serving as athletic director in Shenandoah County’s school system, Kenny Rinker has decided to retire.

The Central athletic director said he simply felt like it was the right time.

“I’ve thought about it for a couple years,” Rinker said on Monday afternoon. “Everybody’s always told me that you will know the time to retire. And I think about halfway through the year last year, I made the decision to finish out the year and one more would be the end of it.

“I’ll be 62 in May and just felt that it was time to do something else.”

Rinker’s retirement was approved at the Shenandoah County School Board meeting on Jan. 11. Rinker’s last day as athletic director is June 30. The search is underway to find a new athletic director.

Rinker said he taught for two years in Harrisonburg before coming to Shenandoah County. He spent seven years at Stonewall Jackson High School, and is in his 31st year at Central High School.

Rinker is in his eighth year as Central athletic director, and had been the assistant athletic director for the three previous years.

He also had stints as head varsity football coach at Stonewall Jackson and Central and head varsity softball coach at Central.

Rinker said he will really miss being around the kids.

“I enjoyed going and watching the kids play whether it was wrestling, tennis, football basketball, soccer, whatever,” Rinker said. “That was one of the big things I always enjoyed. And being around the kids, being around the coaches and also being around the parents. We have a very supportive group of parents here at Central High School — always have.”

Rinker said one of the things he’s most proud of during his time as athletic director was getting lights for the soccer/track field and the softball field. He said all of the money for the projects came from the booster club and donations.

Rinker was a math teacher for 38 years, including 32 full-time years. Once Rinker became athletic director he taught one class a day. Before the 2016-17 school year, the decision was made by the Shenandoah County School Board that athletic directors should not be teaching classes.

Rinker said he loved being a teacher and helping kids.

“That’s something I’ll probably have a lot of fond memories of,” Rinker said. “There’s a lot of kids out there and parents that will walk up and say we really enjoyed having you as a math teacher. We’re glad Jimmy or our daughter had you as a math teacher. It was a challenge for me always to find that little niche for that kid to try to make them better. And the same thing with the athletics. If there was something I could do for a kid, even though I wasn’t coaching, I could sit down and talk to them.

“My goal was to take every student or athlete that I had to make them better, and somehow through them to make me better.”

Rinker said he’s missed out on some things over the last eight years due to his job. Rinker said he’s looking forward to retirement and being able to spend more time with his family, traveling and being able to hunt and fish more.

Rinker said that he will miss his colleagues both in the classroom and in his athletic director’s job. He said he wouldn’t trade his job as a teacher or athletic director for anything.

“I feel like I’ve been blessed,” Rinker said. “Because I don’t care whether it’s a teacher, an athletic director, a coach, whatever, I think you have one of the best jobs in the country if not in the world. Because of who you associate with every day. And you’re part of kids lives. You can impact their lives.”