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Brotherly love spurs Rimpf in his coaching and daily life

Posted: February 13, 2017 4:56 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Baltimore Ravens/NFL

BRIAN RIMPF PLAYED for the Baltimore Ravens from 2004 through 2007

It was the call which every family with a member of the military fears. For newly minted Camden High head football coach Brian Rimpf, the news came after a month and two days after he was named head football coach at Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, N.C.

On July 8, 2012, Rimpf and his family were informed that his brother Nathan Rimpf, a U.S. Army Ranger, was injured in some form while leading his platoon through the passage in Afghanistan’s Anbar Province. That Nathan Rimpf was injured was the only piece of information which the military spokesperson on the other end of the phone could provide the Rimpf family.

Shortly after having met with his new team on Friday morning inside the Wellness Center at Camden High, Rimpf talked about that fateful day more than five years ago as if he had just taken the call earlier in the day.

“I think June sixth (2012) was my first day (at Jack Britt),” he said. “I’ll never forget that day, it was a Sunday and we just got back from church and we got the worst call that you can get. At that point, when we got the call, they didn’t know anything. They just knew that he was injured. We didn’t know his status. We didn’t know if he was in the hospital, if he was living … for 24 hours, that’s a world away, literally, and it took a while for the information to get back to us.”

Slowly, concrete information made it way to the Rimpf family about Nathan, a former high school football player who went on to serve his country.

“My brother was in the military and was stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas,” Rimpf said. “He had been in Afghanistan for six weeks; he had just left before Memorial Day. He ended up stepping on a land mine while they were out on patrol. He’s a double amputee, now. He has lost both legs.”

When he returned stateside, Nathan Rimpf was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he stayed for a year and a half while undergoing rehabilitation.  Shortly thereafter he was awarded the Purple Heart. He is now able to walk thanks to two prosthetic legs.

Being situated in Fayetteville, home to Fort Bragg, Brian Rimpf and his family were taken in not only by the community at Jack Britt High School but by the military families in the area. That, he said, made the entire journey easier since all went through the process together.

Several of his players at Jack Britt had relatives who were members of the military. One player’s father was a general while the dad of another player was a colonel. When those men were in the Maryland area, they made it a point to stop in a visit Nathan Rimpf during his recovery.

“It was very difficult but that community that we had up there, that family we had up there certainly helped us to get through the process,” Rimpf said. “Those are great people to have around and I know there are some (military families) here which is fantastic because they understand … they know.”

If there could be a rainbow associated with such a devastating situation, it was Rimpf’s first team at Jack Britt advanced to and played for the North Carolina 4AA football championship in 2012. In the stands that day was Nathan Rimpf, cheering on his brother’s Buccaneer squad.

The plight of Nathan Rimpf and other wounded warriors has led to Brian Rimpf placing even more importance on Military Appreciation Night, which Camden, Lugoff-Elgin and North Central stage each year during a home football game to honor those men and women who have and continue to serve this country.

“It has kind of a special meaning to me because of what happened to my brother,” Rimpf said. “It was certainly difficult, though. That first month was tough. Looking back, those are the things that make you stronger in character. Hopefully, all the youth that I will be around will be able to see that in me.”

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