Scholar athlete: Rhinehart helps lead the way
NATCHEZ — Cody Rhinehart’s conversation with teammate Tyler Buckles before baseball season started helped shape his attitude about being a team leader.
The Adams County Christian School senior outfielder spoke to Buckles about being a leader for a much younger squad than the Rebels fielded a year ago. Buckles was lost for the season because of a T-11 vertebrae fracture he sustained in a car wreck, casting even more of a spotlight on Rhinehart.
“It’s a lot more pressure,” Rhinehart said. “Most of the time, it was me and him, so it was way easier.”
But Rhinehart hasn’t shrunk under the pressure. He had the game-tying hit in the team’s come-from-behind win against Cathedral High School Tuesday, and Rhinehart is also a leader in the classroom, boasting a grade-point average of approximately 3.6. Rhinehart said good grades are important for any leader.
“Grades come first, and then sports,” Rhinehart said. “That’s the example I want to set.”
ACCS head baseball coach Hunter McKeivier said Rhinehart’s parents play a key role in their son making good grades.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders due to his parents,” McKeivier said. “I see what they expect out of him, and they don’t give him a whole lot of slack when it comes to (grades).”
But Rhinehart’s father, Kavin Rhinehart, said his son doesn’t need to be reminded to study hard.
“He’s pretty much self-motivated,” Kavin said. “We don’t really have to say anything to him. He does his work, comes do practice and does everything he needs to do.”
Cody, who also played football this past fall, said he has a routine that allows him to get all of his schoolwork done despite having to go to practice or play in games.
“I just come home after sports and do what I have to do,” Cody said. “Probably the latest I’ve ever stayed up is 2. It just depends on what I have.”
Having played baseball since he was old enough to sign up for tee ball, Cody’s father coached his son up until high school. Kavin said his son was easy to coach, even if he had to be a little tough on him sometimes.
“He wanted to listen, and he liked playing, and he wanted to be there to play,” Kavin recalled.
Cody said he enjoyed getting pointers from his dad, and one lesson about hitting still sticks with him to this day.
“We used to always work on hitting line drives and not popping up,” Cody said. “The key is bringing your hands straight to the ball and not dipping.”
As a senior, McKeivier said he’s liked what he’s seen from his veteran outfielder so far this season.
“Cody’s been a huge surprise for me,” McKeivier said. “He’s really stepped up this year in the leadership role and is trying to be the leader we need at this time. He’s progressively gotten better each year he’s played. If I give him a task, he’ll get it done.”
Making sure his younger teammates pay attention to details is one of the main ways he tries to lead, Cody said.
“I make them do their stretches right and take care of the little things,” Cody said. “Coach McKeivier always talks about how your mindset has to be right. It’s really a mental game.”
Cody is also the son of Leslie Rhinehart.