USA Field Hockey NEWS Sisters and Olympian...

Sisters and Olympians

July 19, 2012, 11:10 a.m. (ET)

Parents of any U.S. National Team athlete dream of receiving that one monumental phone call from their child saying he or she made the Olympic Team. U.S. Field Hockey mother, Tina Reinprecht didn’t receive one. 

She received two. 

Tina, the mother of 2012 Olympians Julia and Katie Reinprecht, watched her girls’ love of the game begin during their elementary years and continue to grow as she coached both through her own club program – the Mystx Field Hockey Club.

Here, Tina set the foundation that helped Katie get recruited by Princeton University and a year later also added Julia to the Tiger’s Field Hockey program. From there, midfielder Katie earned her spot on the National Team in 2009. Quickly following in her sister’s footsteps once again, defender Julia joined the National Team in 2010. 

The sisters’ journey from the elementary pitch to the Olympic podium isn’t an impossible feat. Tina explains how raising an Olympian, or two, does not begin by writing a check for an exclusive club but starts right in your own backyard. 

Q: What sparked the girls’ interest in initially playing field hockey?

A: I started out volunteering for our township program. ‘If mom is going to go, you are going to go too’ was the type of mentality I had.  We didn’t know what the girls were going to be interested in, so we signed them up for soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and there was spring field hockey. After that I started a club field hockey team and became a youth field hockey coach. I would say their interested continued to grow as they played. 

Q: Julia followed Katie’s lead to Princeton University and this pattern only continued as they earned their spots on the National Team. What is the girls’ relationship like on the field?

A: (My husband) Jim and I have always tried really hard not to have the girls doing all of the same things. One would ride horses while the other did karate. As parents we wanted the girls to try various sports. Katie and Julia’s oldest sister Sarah played field hockey and went through the recruiting process. Watching from a safe distance, Sarah blazed the trail for the other two. 

As a coach, you notice how different players connect with each other and click. It’s that moment when two players understand how the other moves and it all comes together. That’s what Katie and Julia have. It’s a chemistry that just happens.

Q: How did you balance being a coach and mother?

A: I have been the luckiest parent and coach by having the best of both worlds. I didn’t treat them any differently than any of the other athletes. I held them to the same expectations as everyone else. If Julia and Katie went above and beyond, it was their own doing. Now, as a mom I can sit back and enjoy.  At times though it is hard for me not be on the field with them.

Q: What do you credit their success to?

A: Our girls grew up in the hot bed of hockey and this gave them opportunities that the rest of country might not have necessarily had. Beyond that, the sport is more than writing a check and sending your girls off to camps and clubs. It is a lost thing in our society - goofing off in the backyard having mom and dad show an interest. Take your daughter to a DI, DII or DIII college match and watch a game. Invest a personal interest. Dads take their sons to Phillies games. Why can’t Moms take their daughters to Drexel or Princeton games and watch? Make a day of it and have a hoagie tailgate. Make those types of memories.

Q: What lessons have you learned raising two Olympians that you would want to share with other hockey parents?

A: Find a program in your township and find a club team that matches your philosophy for a more competitive edge. Be careful though. Forcing and encouraging your child to play is a fine line.

Q: What are your thoughts as Julia and Katie prepare to depart to London? 

My husband and I leave next Friday and we’ll be there both weeks. We look at each other and ask is this really happening. We’re just pinching ourselves and elated with the girls’ success. 

When people come up and congratulate us, we’re still not sure how to respond. We are so very proud of the team and are looking forward to watching their great performance in London. We have been very blessed to watch Julia and Katie grow and achieve their goals. We hope they’re not done yet. 

Kaitlan Mitchell is a freelance writer for USA Field Hockey