Joanna Reitz: Utah Assistant Coach

Joanna Reitz

Utah Assistant Coach

Update: As of Summer 2017, Reitz has been hired as an Assistant Coach for the Utah Utes!

Coach Reitz is in her first season at USC Aiken as an assistant coach for Head Coach Mike Brandt. Prior to her time at USC Aiken she spent two years at Mercer University where she worked with guard players and was the teams scheduler. Before arriving at Mercer her tenure included two years as an assistant at Shorter University in Rome, Ga. At Shorter her responsibilities included leading the charge on recruiting, scouting, and working with both post and guard players. Reitz began her coaching career at Florida State University where she served as a Graduate Assistant for three seasons and the Director of Recruiting Operations for a year with the Seminoles. Reitz graduated from Covenant College in 2006 where she was a three time captain, a first team all conference selection and three time academic all-AAC honoree. 

“The key to having healthy relationships on your team is having healthy relationships outside of your team”

~Coach Joanna Reitz


All members of a team will tell you how important relationships between teammates are. After speaking with Coach Reitz we were fortunate to learn that the relationships outside of the program are just as influential to the team’s culture as those inside of it. Coaches need to encourage players and other staff members to have healthy relationships outside of the team in order to have the healthy teammate and player-coach relationships within the team. Coaches need to encourage players to have happy, healthy, and emotionally supportive relationships outside of the team while doing the same with their own relationships as a coach. Here are some outstanding tips for having healthy relationships as a coach:

  • As a coach, don’t rely on your players to meet your emotional needs.  Find your own circle and rely on your own friends and family to meet those needs. You are there to support the players, not the other way around.
  • There are times when it’s appropriate for you to be a friend to the players but it is usually not appropriate for them to be a friend to you. Set boundaries with your players as far as time spent and emotional vulnerability.
  • Be cautious of spending excessive amounts of time outside of team time with one player compared to others. Even if the player is facing an exceptional circumstance in their life where they need extra support, know your limits and try to encourage them to see someone who is qualified to help them. At the same time while you are supporting them as their coach continue to encourage them to get support from teammates, friends, family, etc. Try your best to equally give your attention to players and remember that we as coaches are not equipped to handle all the circumstances that players go through.
  • Don’t vent to players. They can vent to you about certain things but not the other way around.
  • Your identity is not found in what your players think of you. If certain players don’t like you, you can’t let that overly influence what you do or who you are.

Teach A Man To Fish…

Before helping players Coach Reitz will ask herself, “is this something the players can do for themselves?” Players are going to make mistakes, and sometimes it’s inconvenient for us and it can make our jobs tougher but it is important to allow some space for them to experience consequences and let them learn from their mistakes. It is easy as a coach to be eager to help them with everything in their lives but they have to learn on their own at times and work their way through things. It helps them to develop better skills for their years after they leave your program. I love the quote – “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime.”

Clear Expectations + Consistent Accountability = Trust 

“Specifically setting clear expectations and following that up with accountability is how you build trust.” As a coach you set the team rules, expectations, and create the team culture but Coach Reitz advises that the punishment should always fit the crime within your program. Making players do excessive punishment such as running an extreme amount of sprints for a small misdemeanor of your rules isn’t the best solution. As well she advises that you don’t need to always tell players what the punishment is going to be beforehand because it pigeon holes you into difficult circumstances if a rule is broken. If you say you are going to create a certain punishment for a rule broken and the rule is broken then you have to follow through (even if it is a rare circumstance) or you will lose credibility and trust with your players.

Recruiting Relationships

As an assistant coach it is important to sell your future student-athletes on three things: The Head Coach, The Program and The School. When you are building a relationship with a recruit you want to connect with them as an assistant but you really want them to make their decision based on those three things previously mentioned and not necessarily the relationship you have with them. If a recruit chooses your school ONLY because of you and you end up taking a different job, that leaves the kid disappointed and you feeling like you let them down even though you are doing your job.

O.T. Coaching Advice and Resources for Coaches

  • Some player relationships just take time, don’t force it!
  • Really consider how your discipline affects the whole team and make case by case judgments on how to handle situations.
  • As a Graduate Assistant you are a sponge. You are there to serve and learn!
  • Podcast Recommendation: Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast (available for free on iTunes).

Books: Creative Followership by Jimmy Collins, Next Generation Leader by Andy Stanley, Boundaries by Henry Cloud & John Townsend and When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert


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