Women’s Basketball coach J.J. Riehl understands brighter days are coming

In her sixth year as Head Coach of the Women’s basketball team, J.J. Riehl has found success in coaching her team to victory at the Heartland Conference Championship last season. Even  after receiving this honorable achievement, Riehl says there are bigger rewards that come with coaching.

“Coaching is important to me because of the relationships… It’s about helping young adults become women. It’s about molding them and helping them grow to become confident women who are ready to go out and be great professionals and great leaders in their communities,” coach Riehl said.

As a former player for the St. Edward’s women’s basketball team, Riehl attributes the university as being a key factor in preparing her for her professional career.

“I do think four years in college, especially here at St. Edward’s… really molded me to who I am. I think it gives you the tools necessary to mature and learn and grow so that you are ready to take that next step in your career,” said Riehl.

Although Riehl has had plenty of joyous experiences throughout her career, she was challenged straightaway to equip her team her starting year.. Riehl took the head coach position after the head coach at the time had to leave mid-way through the season. At just 22 years of age and six months removed from playing, Riehl was then responsible for coaching the team by herself.

Fast forward to today, adversity has made its way around once again. Up until this point in the current season, the team has accumulated an 11-14 record.

“This year’s been a tough year for us. We’ve had some big injuries and we’re a young team that’s lacking experience,” coach Riehl said.

Though there have been a few obstacles along the way, Riehl remains optimistic and thankful with all that she has experienced.

“I think just going through what we’re going through this year will help us grow… If what we’re going through this year – we just came off a four-game losing streak, two tough weeks – if that’s that toughest thing and the biggest challenge that I’ve faced in my life, then, man, how blessed of a life have I had?”

As for the solidarity of the team, Riehl relays the importance of implementing a culture grounded in relationships to her players.

“Since day one, our culture has always been about relationships. We talk about ‘Rings & Relationships’ and how you can’t have one without the other,” said Riehl. “We don’t change [our vision], it’s always: team, family, love. You can’t win without those things.”

Riehl is determined to spread those three special words to her players as #1T1F1L has become the hashtag she proudly uses on social media.

Although this season may not have gone the way that she anticipated, Riehl remains hopeful moving forward.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. We just need a little more time to get all our kinks worked out and get a little bit stronger together, and we’ll be just fine.”