Catching up with a grad: Stephen Reichardt, ‘85
When Stephen Reichardt entered his senior year at Sonoma Valley High School, he didn’t have a clear vision of where he would go next. After being crowned Powder Puff King and voted Most Friendly, he did know, however, that graduation would be bittersweet.
“We loved our classmates, we loved going to school and… we loved to live for the weekends,” said Reichardt.
One of his favorite memories took place in the high school gym. Having played on the basketball team for four years, he knew the final game of his senior season against the school’s rival, Casa Grande, would be a challenge.
Or so he thought. Reichardt scored 15 points in the game and, with 20 seconds left, sank the game-tying and game-winning free throws that pushed the final score to 65-64.
After graduating in 1985, Reichardt attended California State University Maritime Academy. He originally tried to study nautical industrial technology but failed the physical exam due to being red-green color blind, so he majored in marine engineering technology.
“I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I found it on the way. I kind of got funneled right through,” said Reichardt.
Now located in San Francisco, he is the senior chief engineer for ABM Engineering Services.
Although he loves his life in the city, because his mother, Georgette Reichardt, still lives in the same house the family moved into in 1973, Reichardt returns to Sonoma often.
When he isn’t visiting Sonoma or working in the Tiffany building in Union Square, Reichardt dedicates his time to managing the San Quentin State Prison’s baseball team.
He hadn’t played baseball in 26 years, but after hearing about the opportunity to play the inmates at San Quentin, he decided to get back into the sport and, once he did, never looked back.
He started bringing in his own team to play the inmates, and soon was asked to help coach. A year later, he became the team manager for one of the prison’s two teams, the San Quentin A’s.
During baseball season, which starts in March and ends in August, Reichardt goes to the prison about three times a week. While he enjoys being able to keep up with a sport that he loves, his favorite part of volunteering at San Quentin is getting to know the inmates and watching them prepare for life after prison.
“When I come in here, my goal is to keep coaching until the players on my team have been released and gone back into society and get their second chance,” said Reichardt. Even after they are released, many of the inmates and their families maintain valued relationships with him.
From the inmate who was once drafted by two major league baseball teams to the lead Shakespearean actor for the prison, Reichardt treasures the relationships he has formed with each inmate and he’s proud watching them grow.
Reichardt’s love for philanthropy may come from his parents.
His mother spends a great amount of time volunteering with Sonoma’s Blanket Brigade where she helps make blankets for women’s shelters and veterans. Before his father, Fred Reichardt, passed in 2005, he was an active volunteer umpire for Sonoma Little League.
Looking forward, Reichardt appreciates the retirement plan his career has prepared for him but he says he probably still has another 10 to 12 years of work ahead. Looking back, he couldn’t be happier with how his life has turned out.
“I’m absolutely the luckiest man alive when it comes to health, when it comes to my career… I have a home out by the beach in San Francisco, I have good friends and I’m very, very blessed,” said Reichardt.
One of the most important lessons he has learned comes from a co-worker nearly 20 years ago who told him, “Experience is directly related to the amount of equipment ruined.”
Reichardt says he has learned to always try to do his best so that even when mistakes are made, the effort and intent come through.
“The most important part,” said Reichardt, “is to choose something that you enjoy doing, that can provide for you and your family, and along the way, you just may find a career that you love.”