By Joe Barker
Union Missourian Editor
The rain stayed away long enough for the Union faithful to honor a legend Friday night.
Before the start of the first home football game of the 2018 season, Union High School honored Del Rinne, former football coach. The field at Sierberger Stadium is now known as Del Rinne Field.
Rinne, a highly decorated former member of the Union High School athletics family, is in the school’s inaugural Hall of Fame class and has the most wins of any football coach in school history.
“It’s a great honor,” Rinne said. “It’s something I didn’t expect. I’m very humbled and proud to be recognized.”
Rinne was honored with a ceremony inside the school before the game started. Before kickoff, the new Del Rinne Field logo was unveiled.
The logo is expected to officially installed this week.
Once the ceremony ended, rain began to fall forcing the postponement of the game. Still, the Union faithful got a chance to salute a legend.
Rinne was Union’s head coach from 1970-95, registering a 185-89-1 record. Including his time as an assistant coach, Union’s football teams won 200 games with Rinne on the staff.
He gave credit to all his coaches for helping him get the honor. He said he wouldn’t have been recognized without the hard work of his staff throughout the years.
“I’m so proud to have coached with all these gentlemen,” he said.
One of his proteges, Dale Gildehaus, couldn’t attend the ceremony because he’s still the head coach for St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. Gildehaus sent along a message for Rinne.
“I’m so happy and proud of you,” Gildehaus said. “May the Friday night lights shine down on your field for a long, long time.”
A number of former players, coaches and family members attended the pregame ceremony.
“It’s just so special,” his wife Lynne Rinne said. “We were so surprised. We spent a lot of time at Union High School and loved every minute of it.
“Union has been part of our life,” she said. “Our kids went to Union, I went to Union. Our boys played football for their dad. Our daughter was the statistician. It’s been a journey for all of us — a good journey.”
During his tenure, Rinne’s teams won or tied for 12 Four Rivers Conference titles with 12 district championships.
The Wildcats advanced to the state semifinals four times and finished second in the 1983 Show-Me Bowl. That year, the Wildcats were 11-3, losing to Joplin Parkview at Busch Memorial Stadium in the championship game.
Rinne’s teams won 10 games in a season seven times and only three of his teams had losing records.
Rinne was named a charter member of the Union High School Athletic Hall of Fame last fall. He also belongs to the Missouri Football Coaches Hall of Fame and the St. Louis Metro Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
Rinne received National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association State Award of Merit in 1997.
In 1994, he was the winner of the Excellence in Education teaching award (crystal apple) from Emerson Electric.
Rinne also served as the athletic director at the school from 1976-1996.
Rinne and his wife, Lynne, reside in Beaufort.