A coach writes about being an athlete’s parent

Sewell resident Annette Reiter has coached basketball for almost 20 years and won the Parochial B Division State Championship with Bishop Eustace Prep, Pennsauken, in 2002. Currently, she is an assistant basketball coach at Rowan University in Glassboro.

However, for her, a more important coaching job, is the one she performs every day, along with her husband David,   and that is helping her three children be the best they can be, on and off the playing field.

Recently, Reiter, a parishioner at Incarnation Parish in Mantua, published a motivational book “Parenting An Athlete” (Tate Publishing) on how parents can be positive role models for their children involved in sports.

In the introduction to her book, Reiter admits that she has “found it is most confusing and difficult being the parent of an athlete. I live and breath with many other parents of this generation raising young athletes on the brink of high school sports and wanting so much for them to achieve and be at the top.”

“We feel we know our child better than any coach and see the potential for success and possibly greatness.  We have their best interest at heart.”

Reiter knows the pressures of being an athlete. Having graduated from Widener University in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, she is third on the Pride’s Basketball all-time scoring list, with 1,568 points, and helped them win three MAC championships.

Her coaching career began at Gloucester Catholic High School, where she was the girls’ basketball varsity assistant and junior varsity coach from 1991-97. From there, she became the girls’ basketball head coach at Glassboro High School (1997-2000); head coach at Bishop Eustace (2000-05); and head coach of the Tri-State Tar Heels AAU Organization (2005-09).

She has also coached her youngest daughter, Kristina’s AAU team. (Her oldest child, Alyssa, also played on the AAU team, but was not coached by Reiter.) Both her daughters have also played in high school.

Throughout “Parenting An Athlete,” Reiter’s passion comes through about being a coach and of being a parent.  She recalls times as a high school coach dealing with parents who yelled and screamed at their child/athlete during games; questioned their child’s playing time; or even transferred their child from the school, because they weren’t playing enough.

Reiter reflects on her own coaching, and on how her “level of intensity scared some of the girls and made them feel self-conscious,” and her desire to “take away not only all of my positive coaching experiences that were effective in teaching these girls, but I want to remember the mistakes I made so as not to repeat them.”

She also remembers fulfilling experiences, such as when one of her Glassboro High School players wrote Reiter a letter thanking her for everything she had done and the impact she had on her and the team, after Reiter told them she was leaving the school.

The main point she emphasized, in “Parenting An Athlete,” is the importance of maintaining a positive attitude: “No matter what the immediate situation…we need to be that parent who consistently feeds the child positive reinforcement and is able to spin adversity into a meaningful learning experience,” and “allow their child to stumble and fall and then pick themselves up, so potential growth can occur.”

Reiter wants parents to enjoy their children’s careers, “without the feeling of ‘entitlement,’” and at the same time help their children learn the enduring life lessons of overcoming disappointment, communication, trust, collective responsibility, leadership, and perseverance.

Promoting the book, she has spoken to freshman parents at Paul VI High School in Haddon Township, and hopes to speak to more parents of junior high/high school athletes, encouraging them to be positive role models for their children.

“It is never about just wins and losses,” she writes. “Sports should be about so much more.”

For more information on Annette Reiter’s book, go to www.parentinganathlete.net.

Categories: Sports News

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