UTAH PUCK REPORT
Utah’s Charlie Rinehart Skips Junior Hockey, Commits to US Military Academy At West Point
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – When Salt Lake City’s Charlie Rinehart was 15, he had already reached the highest level of hockey Utah had to offer at the time and he knew he wanted more.
“After discussing it with my parents, they gave me the restriction that I could not just leave to play hockey. They wanted me to find somewhere with both tough academics and a solid hockey program,” said Rinehart on Utah Puck Report.
U.S. Army officer, and all-time great for West Point's hockey program, second lieutenant Parker Gahagen is navigating an uncharted path to becoming a professional while in active service. It meant acting as an EBUG for the @ColoradoEagles this weekend.
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Rinehart attended a summer camp at hockey powerhouse Shattuck St. Mary’s, and it checked all the marks. Going to Shattuck also meant Rinehart would have to move away from home.
“My first year at Shattuck was a little bit rough at the start. It was difficult to get used to living away from home and being a little fish in a big pond,” reflected Rinehart.
As the seasons went by, Shattuck became more of a home as he earned the perks of being a senior classman. Working summer camps, mentoring younger players, getting to drive a car and choosing roommates, all made his time at the prep school enjoyable and helped create friendships that will last a lifetime.
While working one of those summer camps at Shattuck, Rinehart met a former Shattuck player that was playing for The Unites States Military Academy at West Point’s NCAA team. He told Charlie how he had just finished a training that had him living in the wilderness for the past several weeks.
“It hurts a lot more when you’re in first place."https://t.co/xnyA2PYFFd
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“That sounded pretty cool as my brothers and I have had some great times camping. I then did some research into West Point and the entire program sounded perfect for me,” Rinehart told me.
Most high school players wanting to play NCAA know they have to spend a couple of seasons playing Junior A hockey to get more game experience and to mature a bit, and West Point is no exception.
West Point is also one of the most difficult schools in the country to get into. Not only do you have to have almost perfect grades, you have to have a high ACT/SAT score, be an athlete, have tons of leadership experience, and you also have to get a congressional nomination.
“It was like feeling out applications for two more colleges. You need to start the nomination process early,” Rinehart said.
It’s almost like a cruel game, you have to apply early, they also want you to play juniors and then, even if you were originally accepted, and you opt to go play juniors at their request, you still have to reapply and go through the entire process again. There are no guarantees.
Charlie was one of 10 or so students from Utah to receive a nomination, which left him with a decision to make. Play juniors and increase his chances of playing NCAA hockey or take the nomination and try out as a walk-on.
Charlie took the nomination a committed to West Point, which also means joining the United States Army.
Players on NHL deals continue to be paid while the season is suspended, but ECHL teams couldn’t afford to follow the same path. Hockey players in the minors face an uncertain future and even offseason jobs could be hard to come by.
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“I am planning on trying out for the D1 hockey team. I talked to the coach and he said he was happy to give me a tryout. West Point does have a club hockey team, so I will be able to continue playing hockey,” said Rinehart.
Rinehart plans on majoring in mechanical engineering, which is what he’s wanted to do since childhood.
As far as his military career he’s thinking Corps of Engineers or Infantry.
“I need to learn more about all the branches of the army before I make a decision,” he said.
We at The Utah Puck Report powered by KSL Sports want to congratulate Charlie on getting into West Point and to be among the first to say; Thank you for your service.
Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com.