YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Until recently, C.J. Riefenhauser never had a reason to prepare a résumé.
His left arm was the only reference he ever needed.
But injuries, coupled with a newfound love of coaching, changed everything for the former major-league-baseball pitcher.
The 29-year-old Riefenhauser, who appeared in 24 games for the Tampa Bay Rays over two seasons, is set to take over Yorktown High School’s baseball program this year, pending school board approval.
“With Yorktown, it was actually right time, right place, I guess,” Riefenhauser told Yorktown News last week.
The Rays drafted Riefenhauser in 2010 out of Chipola Junior College (Marianna, Fla.). When shoulder ailments caused Riefenhauser to hang up his cleats two years ago, the 2008 Mahopac High School graduate turned his attention back toward school.
He enrolled in Mercy College (Dobbs Ferry) and joined its baseball team as a coach. Thoughts of trying to attempt a comeback quickly subsided. Riefenhauser had found his calling.
“Once I fell in love with coaching, this is the route I wanted to go,” Riefenhauser said.
“I am done pitching,” he added. “It was a great run. There are no regrets ever in my life.”
After earning his undergraduate degree, Riefenhauser put out feelers to his high school connections, who told him a head coaching vacancy was opening up at Yorktown High School, where Sean Kennedy was stepping aside after 25 years.
For the first time in his life, Riefenhauser drafted a résumé and cover letter and applied for the job.
“I guess it all just fell into place from there,” he said.
When it comes to his predecessor, Riefenhauser knows he has “very big shoes to fill.” He said of Kennedy, “He made the program what it is now.”
However, Riefenhauser, who is studying physical education at Manhattanville College, said he is excited about the prospect of building his own program.
“I want to finish school to be a phys ed teacher,” Riefenhauser said. “I want to coach at Yorktown for as long as I can, as long as they’ll let me. That’s the plan.”
Though this will be his first high school coaching gig, Riefenhauser has spent the last few years attending games and leading clinics in the area. He also maintains close connections with other local coaches, including Mahopac High School’s Myckie Lugbauer, his former batterymate.
Getting coaches and players on the same page before the season starts will go a long way toward the team’s success in the spring, Riefenhauser said. To that end, he wants to retain the current coaching staff and form a fall team.
“So, by the time the season does come around, we’re kind of hitting the ground running and we can focus more on baseball,” he said.
Coaches are often judged on wins and losses but, Riefenhauser said, that is only one aspect of his job.
“Do I think winning makes their experience more enjoyable? One hundred percent,” he said. “But at the end of the day, I want these kids to grow. I want to show these kids how much baseball and life correspond with each other. I just want to make it as enjoyable as I can for them.”