The National Lacrosse League is home to the best box lacrosse players in the world. They are at the top of their game, put on stellar athletic performances and have diehard, competitive attitudes.
With lacrosse action suspended until the pandemic has subsided, NLL players have been missing the game fiercely. Thankfully, they have stayed busy in their day-to-day lives. They’ve spent more time with friends and family, honed different types of skills, and remained grounded during this tumultuous moment in history.
Gloves Off is a 13-installment series that peels back the layers of our athletes to uncover more about their lifestyle and personal lives, learning about their hobbies, passions and more, with the goal of making them inherently more relatable to their fans.
A lot of lawyers spend years doing grunt work at high-profile firms before making a name for themselves. They research; they interview; they get coffee for the partners.
But NLL Players Association Vice-President and Executive Director Reid Reinholdt got his dream job shortly after passing the bar exam. The Toronto Rock forward is the only full-time employee of the NLLPA, where he is using his law degree to help interpret player contracts, bonuses and benefits.
“Since day one, I’ve been applying my legal knowledge. It’s been incredibly valuable to have that background,” Reinholdt said. “It helps when analyzing contracts, and especially the overall CBA, which has been difficult since a pandemic or a missed season was never contemplated. We’re picking up the pieces and trying to work with the league on equitable solutions.”
Reinholdt also said he has learned a lot from the union’s general counsel, Jason Jaros, whose father was a past general counsel for unions.
The NLLPA runs elections every three years, and last October new leadership was elected, with Zach Currier becoming the President and Reinholdt the Vice-President. Currier then appointed Reinholdt as the Executive Director.
It’s the first time since the union’s 1992 inception that a new President and Vice-President have been elected, with founding members Peter Schmitz and David Succamore holding the positions previously.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without Peter and Dave. The league wouldn’t be where it’s at without them and we’re forever grateful for them,” Reinholdt said. “But we felt like a changing of the guard was due and it was a good time without an upcoming season and some transition time available. We felt like our union could do more for us in providing resources and benefits and being more aligned with the players interests.”
Reinholdt didn’t imagine himself in the role at first. The process started through simple conversations with other players who felt similarly that some changes were needed.
“We felt like we could represent the players and handle the duties. We had support from other players and we let the old leadership know we would be campaigning. This was very much uncharted territory for lots of us.”
After a short two-month campaign in which they held conversations with NLL team’s players, Currier and Reinholdt won the election by a slim margin.
“It was a tight campaign,” Reinholdt expressed. “I never imagined myself in politics. I really didn’t enjoy the campaigning part. Talking about yourself and trying to tell people what you stand for can be awkward.”
The first order of business has been to shift the union’s brand alignment by renaming it from the Professional Lacrosse Player’s Association (PLPA) to the NLL Players Association. A new website (www.NLLPA.com) and social media channels (@NLLPA) will soon be launched as part of the rebranding.
Reinholdt said in the past the intent may have been to fold any existing pro field lacrosse leagues into the PLPA, akin to the Professional Hockey Players Association which is the union for both the AHL and ECHL.
“Our focus right now is the NLL and that’s why we wanted the change. A lot of positive things are happening even though we haven’t had a season. We’ve had good talks with the league, business partners, and sponsors.”
Reinholdt spent his first two post-secondary years at the University of Victoria studying engineering before transferring to Limestone College for a business degree. Following that he was accepted at Western University in London, Ontario where he obtained his law degree.
“My end goal was always to work in the sports world,” he said. “Agents, and a lot of those in upper management positions are lawyers so I felt like it would give me an edge in the industry. It just so happened lacrosse was the sport I was able to get a job in and it’s the sport I’m most passionate about.”
Reinholdt was scouted out of the Coquitlam lacrosse system after being overlooked in the draft. He signed with the Rock as a free agent in 2016, just after he started at Western. His first Rock training camp occurred just after the Mustangs won the 2016 Baggataway Cup. They won again the next year, with Reinholdt named as an All-Canadian both years.
“I really felt like that gave me a leg up on the competition because I came into the Rock’s camp having just finished the CUFLA season and I was prepared, warmed up and in shape,” he said.
Reinholdt scored the insurance marker in the Rock’s second game of the 2016-17 season, a 13-11 win over Saskatchewan, but a nagging torn hamstring kept him out of the lineup regularly until mid-February. Once he was put into a full-time role, he easily impressed both coaches and fans with 36 points over 12 games. He appeared in all 18 games in the 2017-18 season, scoring 44 points, but missed the 2018-19 season recovering from a knee injury.
He only made it into seven of the Rock’s 11 games in 2019-20 as traveling during his articling year was difficult. He said he was able to work with his firm and the Law Society to be allowed the time off, and Rock management was very supportive of his dreams.
It’s been a whirlwind getting their legs under them.
“According to our bylaws, I’m in charge of everything the president tells me to be in charge of,” he chuckled. “I wear every hat out there. From rebranding, to going through contracts, to free agency issues which are uncertain because of the cancelled season. There are a lot of politics involved as well, with players reaching out with minor employment issues or workers comp concerns.”
There are endless meetings, as well, with the executive committee as well as the league.
“I’m lucky that Zach is super hands-on,” Reinholdt praised. “We talk every single day about what tasks we want to focus on. We can bounce a lot of ideas off of each other and we work really well together.”
Overall the NLLPLA’s goal is to protect the rights of the players and to advocate on their behalf when it comes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but “we would like to go above and beyond that. There’s a lot more support we can be offering.”
The current CBA expires in November 2023. There had been an opt-out option for either side in November 2020, but Reinholdt said with everything going on in the world, the executive had a good discussion with the league about extending the opt-out and changing it to the player’s only opt-out. That new date is November 2021.
“That was a sign of good faith by the league right off the bat and helped us start a good working relationship.”
Reinholdt explained that a CBA acts like a law, governing nearly everything about the players relationships with their teams and the league. Minimum and maximum salaries, schedules, per diems, missed work and licensing are just some of the major issues it governs.
It’s a lot of work but the Rock have been incredibly supportive of his new endeavour.
“Jamie Dawick and the whole management group over there are really accommodating. They stay an arm’s length away so no lines are crossed but they’re extremely supportive. Jamie’s really supportive of anything his guys do and he wants to help out pretty much everyone. He lets me bounce ideas off of him for an owner’s perspective.”