A sea of red takes over the hardwood floor of an otherwise lackluster high school gymnasium. Rob Rindock sits in the stands at Freedom High School, a camera rested in between two shaky hands, ready to capture the moment his son leaves the bench. Nick Rindock, a sophomore at Parkland High School, runs through a makeshift tunnel of his teammates, past the cheerleaders stunting, shakes the hand of the opposing coach and joins the huddle. His father sacrifices cheering for his son to record the moment.
His name is padded between those of his teammates. To unknowing fans in the crowd, those five starters are just boys who happened to go to the same high school and play the same sport. But for Rindock, he has learned the game with them. The announcer rattles off junior Austin Beidelman first, Rindock is called third and sophomore Justin Zajko comes last.
Three high schoolers, three names, three boys who have been on the court together since they joined the fifth and sixth grade Parkland Youth Center basketball team. They were built for success early and won all but a few games and four league titles combined before they began their freshman years.
For some, this is just another game. For Rindock, on a cold night in early 2012, he just got his first varsity start. Six years later, he will score his 1,000 point as a Muhlenberg College basketball player, just 10 minutes down Cedar Crest Boulevard from his high school alma mater.
Rindock knew this was his sport from a young age. He thinks the first time he joined an official team was around four or five years old, but dribbling and shooting came naturally to the now 6-foot-4 guard. With both a love for playing and watching the game, he spent most of his childhood – and life – playing basketball. Traditionally a winter sport, basketball became a year-round affair for Rindock. Before he made Parkland’s varsity team, he split his time between middle school teams and Amateur Athletic Union basketball.
In high school he played on the varsity team during the regular season, and kept up on his game at SportsFest over the summer. He found the same success at that outdoor competition that he did in Parkland’s gym, leading his team to back-to-back SportsFest championships, despite an overturned ankle.
“Senior year has been amazing. I’m thrilled to be healthy again and we beat two Top 25 teams in the country.” Nick Rindock ’18
Finishing with 22 points and going 4-0 on the day, he had earned the title of tournament MVP. He had won another title, this time at Cedar Beach, right next to the college he would soon call home, a place he would see from his room in Benfer 305.
At Parkland, Rindock built off his grade school success. With two years under his belt, Rindock was named team captain during his senior season at Parkland. After leading his team to one District 11 Class 4A championship during his junior year, he wanted a repeat. He was sidelined with a sprained ankle, missing key games against Bethlehem Catholic and Allentown Central Catholic, who boasted Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman, a now point guard for Michigan, on its roster.
Rindock returned with a vengeance, scoring 18 points in his first game back. Then it came time to face Central again. Playing alongside Alex Mitton ‘18 and competing against Jeanlee Baez ‘18, Rindock made sure to show the Vikings what they missed the first time around – scoring 28 points, including 10 in a row.
Despite their best efforts, the Parkland boys basketball team would end up losing that game, but it did not matter in the long run. They would go on to win their second consecutive District 11 Class 4A championship, and Rindock was already committed to play college ball at Muhlenberg.
“That’s my favorite basketball memory,” said Rindock, “winning back to back district championships with the guys I grew up playing with since fourth grade.”
Scoring 1,000 points was something I always wanted to do since I started playing. It was halftime and someone told me I only needed five more. The half started and I hit a three-pointer, and shortly after coach called a set for me to get the ball and I made a pull-up jumper for my 1,000th. But the best part of the night was that we were able to beat the number seven team in the country.
At Muhlenberg, his success continued. He was third on the squad in scoring and fourth in the Centennial Conference in field-goal percentage. He became a permanent figure in the starting lineup for the final 11 games. During his sophomore year, Rindock was the only player in the CC to lead his team in scoring, rebounding and three-point shooting.
And then another injury forced him to end his season early and watch from the sidelines after just 15 games played.
“The program went through a lot within the last year and I had a ruined junior season because of a recurring ankle injury,” said Rindock. “Senior year has been amazing. I’m thrilled to be healthy again and we beat two Top 25 teams in the country.”
Against nationally ranked Swarthmore, Rindock was more focused on keeping his team’s playoff hopes alive than scoring 17 points to reach the 1,000 point mark for his career. He did both. Playing 41 minutes, Rindock scored a career-high 33 points to beat Swarthmore in overtime – a team Muhlenberg men’s basketball has not bested since before Rindock’s freshman year.
“Scoring 1,000 points was something I always wanted to do since I started playing,” said Rindock. “It was halftime and someone told me I only needed five more. The half started and I hit a three-pointer, and shortly after coach called a set for me to get the ball and I made a pull-up jumper for my 1,000th. But the best part of the night was that we were able to beat the number seven team in the country. My teammates are great and my coaches put me in great positions to score and lead the team, so a lot of credit goes to them.”
Amongst a sea of red, Nick Rindock sits with his parents, Rob and Lisa, at his brother Logan’s game. He likes this aspect of playing college basketball close to home, he can still support the three most important people in his life. A few people will stop to say hello, congratulate him on 1,000 points, ask about his post-graduation plans – a symptom of being a successful local athlete.
Logan grew up around Parkland’s basketball programs, he saw what it took to make a winning team with his brother – a 1,000 point scorer – there for advice. Nick relaxes on the bleachers, taking a break from his own busy schedule to watch the prosperous program he helped mold, continue to be a powerhouse. Knowing that at two Allentown schools, people will remember his name.