This week’s post takes a departure from the normal stream of advice on negotiating the murky waters of the NCAA Division 3 recruiting process and instead is a review of the book “Parenting An Athlete” by Annette Reiter. While not directly related to recruiting at the NCAA Division 3 level, this book does offer insight into that parent-student-athlete relationship that is of concern to many of our readers and how many of the author’s concerns translate onto the recruiting stage.
Annette Reiter is an experienced basketball player and coach from New Jersey. From her bio, she played high school and college basketball in the late 1970s and early 1980s including four years as a player at NCAA Division 3 program Widener University. She has coached for nearly twenty years including AAU and high school basketball. Additionally, she had the experience of coaching her own children through basketball (a unique challenge) and writes about them as well.
She has several important messages that pervade throughout the book regarding how parent involvement in youth sports has changed over the years and how it influences the children involved. One of the author’s main messages is that athletics (no matter what the sport) is a “great avenue in learning life’s lessons” and while parents want the best for their child “why do we attempt to shield adversities they may experience…that inevitably could help them to grow and develop?” More simply put her message is there are plenty of positive things that happen through sports, but don’t try to shield student-athletes from the negative either. Negative experiences can be valuable learning tools.
Since recruiting is part of athletics, there are positive and negative lessons to learn from this and the negative lessons can be tremendously valuable. One of the most important ones is to learn self awareness about your own talents and abilities. Often times parents can overinflate the abilities of their son/daughter which boosts a player’s ego and makes them feel good about themselves; however, when a college coach comes along and then says to a student-athlete that you are not good enough to play on his/her college team—how does that player react? If they have been shielded from dealing with adversity throughout their athletic careers, then how will they be able to handle it when their first dose comes as a high school senior or college freshman? Is the player that was cut from the high school varsity team and worked extra hard to make it the following year is going to be able to better handle that adversity? Or will the player who’s parents called the high school coach and begged and pleaded to put their child on varsity be better prepared? The author calls on her own negative experiences as a player and how she responded to make herself a better player.
A second important message was the over involvement of parents of student-athletes. She states that “…parents (were) trying so hard to give their child every opportunity to succeed in the only way they knew how. It was about parents being so emotionally involved and doing everything in their power to see that their child succeeds, many times at the expense of the team.” This my-child-above-the-team mentality was something that has begun to permeate youth sports across the country.
Relating this back to our usual message about recruiting, we at the Hub have seen similar things as well. First, student-athletes need to be in charge of the recruiting process, not their parents. At the NCAA Division 3 level, a student-athlete has to play soccer (or any sport for that matter), because they love it and they want to do it—not just to please Mom and Dad. If a student-athlete does not want to be recruited, then it should be their decision. We encourage parents (who are presumably older and wiser) to help guide their sons/daughters through the process and help them when they ask for it, but they should not be the driving force behind their recruitment.
The bottom line is this— “Parenting An Athlete” is a good little book with practical experience from someone who has been on all sides of the fence as player, parent and coach. It adds some really good insight into parental behavior and how parents want to avoid being “that parent”.
“Parenting An Athlete” by Annette Reiter is available at www.tatepublishing.com as well as Amazon.
Thanks for reading!
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