CHARLOTTE — Who knows where new Carolina Panthers Head Coach Frank Reich would be in his coaching journey had he started with his first job offer?
Fresh off his 14-year playing career, Reich got a phone call from Indianapolis Colts General Manager Bill Polian. He wanted Reich as quarterbacks coach for their first-round draft pick, a guy you may have heard of named Peyton Manning.
But there was a slight issue: Reich had made a commitment to earn a degree from the Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, and he wanted to finish his commitment.
“Anyone that knows him is not surprised by that, because he’s not only someone you trust, he’s someone with integrity,” said Mike Kruger, the current president at RTS. “He does what he says he’s going to do.”
Kruger was one of Reich’s professors, and he said he got to know him right away.
“He’s such a warm, friendly guy; everyone that knows Frank knows that, and we became friends. Then eventually, he became the leader of the campus,” Kruger said.
Six years into his studies, even before he graduated, Reich was named the president of RTS.
“It was a surprise to some of us,” said RTS’ Dean of Student Development Rod Culbertson. “But at the same time, people knew him and they were willing to say, ‘Wow, this is what we need.’”
Culbertson was the director of admissions during Reich’s time at RTS. In staff meetings, he said there were signs of what was to come.
“He really did emphasize we are a team. He had this slogan: we win as a team and we lose as a team,” Culbertson said.
Kruger said Reich led by example at the seminary.
“He really had a servant’s heart,” Kruger said. “He loved the students, and that’s what good leaders do, they don’t just expect to be given things but they do things for others.”
Teaching and leading, and perhaps coaching, has always been in Reich’s blood, but his commitment to RTS and the career path that followed shows he’s driven not by a pursuit of fame or status, but by purpose.
“He wants to do what he thinks God is leading him to do, and at the time, God was leading him to seminary and the ministry, and now God has led him back to the Panthers to coach here,” Kruger said.
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