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Cloude Fewkes (‘24) stars during a performance of a recent Green Hope Theatre play, Almost Maine. Photo used with permission from Cloude Fewkes.
Talents of Theater: Cloude Fewkes
Justin Jackson, Staff Writer • March 1, 2024
Davis Drive Park has fields, Greenways and trails.
Gallery: Parks around town
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Game subscription services have been rapidly increasing in popularity, with the largest service, PlayStation Plus Premium, reporting a user count of 47.4 million, leading to many believing that services will be the future of the game industry.
Gaming in the future
Miguel Carrasco Gomez, Staff Writer • February 26, 2024
Pinning down the win: Green Hope womens wrestling
Pinning down the win: Green Hope women's wrestling
Zoe Westerlund and Deepa RameshFebruary 23, 2024
Follow this link to purchase tickets for Green Hope Athletic events
Pinning down the win: Green Hope womens wrestling
Pinning down the win: Green Hope women's wrestling
Zoe Westerlund and Deepa RameshFebruary 23, 2024
Follow this link to purchase tickets for Green Hope Athletic events

“I missed the competitiveness”

Behind the 30-year playing and coaching career of Coach Justin Reitz that led to being Green Hope baseball’s head varsity coach.
Green+Hope+baseball+named+Justin+Reitz+the+varsity+baseball+coach+after+a+college+playing+and+coaching+career.
Mason Dean
Green Hope baseball named Justin Reitz the varsity baseball coach after a college playing and coaching career.

It’s 3:00 p.m. on a November afternoon and there is a rhythmic sound of a wood bat at the Green Hope baseball field. The sound is coming from Coach Justin Reitz, who stayed after school to hit ground balls to a player hoping to play in college.

For Reitz, the journey to being a head coach started early, beginning his baseball career at a young age. In an interview with the GH Falcon, Reitz stated, “I began playing baseball when I was six. That first year I was playing T-ball.” 

From an early age, Reitz’s coaches made a significant impact, teaching him the general skills of the game as well as position-specific skills. Retiz, being a catcher, got great coaching from an early age. “[Early on], Coach Erdman was the one who taught me a lot about catching, he was a big baseball guy who loved coaching. When he played he was a pitcher, so he was able to help all of the catchers when we played on his teams.” 

This dedication to coaching he saw from Coach Erdman and Coach Koppenhaver, had him set on coaching early in his playing career. Reitz continued, “The way that they coached us made me love the game even more and made me want to coach baseball in the future.”

During Reitz’s high school career, he excelled in three sports, football, basketball and baseball, but once he entered his second year of high school, he began to turn his focus towards baseball. 

“My sophomore year of high school, baseball became my love and my favorite sport to work on.”

The commitment paid off, with Reitz being able to play four years at McDaniel College, a Division III school in Westminster, Maryland. The journey to McDaniel began the fall of his senior year while playing for a local club team.

 On his path to McDaniel, Reitz commented, “That fall, the head coach at McDaniel, Coach Seibert saw me play at an event and reached out to me. He invited me to come down for a visit, and when I got there it was great. I loved the campus, it was also two hours away from my house so I was able to get the college experience away from home but my parents were also able to come down and watch me play.”

Reitz continued his baseball career past high school. He was a four year starter for McDaniel college at catcher. Photo used with permission from Justin Reitz.

Retiz had a very successful career at McDaniels, starting all four years at catcher and being captain for two years. Following his graduation from McDaniels with a bachelor’s degree in 2009, Reitz began working in professional baseball. However, for Reitz, the experience wasn’t quite what he was looking for. Reitz said, “It was fun being in professional baseball, but everything that I did for the Rockies and the Orioles was nothing to do with on-the-field play. It was mostly ticketing, PR, and customer service and I started to miss the coaching component.”

Hoping to transition back onto the field of play as a coach, Reitz contacted one of the members of the McDaniels Green Terror baseball team. Luckily for Reitz, the team was looking to start a graduate assistant program, a job that the coach felt Reitz would be perfect for. Reitz stated, “After talking to the coach, I reached back out to Coach Seibert, and he said that he would love to have me on.” 

This was great news for Reitz who wanted to get back to interacting daily with the players that compete on the field. Retiz shared his thoughts following the good news from Coach Seibert saying, “I was very excited, I wanted to be more involved in the game, in coaching, I missed the competitiveness of baseball and competing every day so that was a great opportunity.”

Being a graduate assistant also helped Reitz in another way. As an assistant, Retiz was able to get his master’s degree, an important step toward his future goal. Reitz commented, “I went to get my master’s degree because I wanted to ultimately coach college baseball, and most colleges want you to have a master’s degree.”

His endeavors were successful, in 2014 Reitz was able to obtain his master’s degree from McDaniels, allowing him to pursue his college coaching career. Following his coaching career at McDaniels, Reitz joined the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) coaching staff in 2018. JHU, the ninth ranked university in the nation, is a perennial power in Division III baseball. The Blue Jays reached the DIII College World Series in 2019 and 2021 and were the DIII national runner-ups in 2023. 

As a coach at Hopkins, Reitz was able to learn valuable skills and prepare to be a head coach of his own. On his experiences at JHU, Reitz stated, “I learned a lot at Hopkins, coaching under Coach Babb who is a Hall of Fame baseball coach with the ABCA (American Baseball Coaches Association). I watched how he would run practices, the preparation that would go into the game… there was a reason for everything that we did.” 

These skills would become important when he became a head coach. Reitz commented,

Those skills helped me be prepared to coach at the high school level because I was able to see the game from a different set of eyes. For so long I saw [the game] through the lens of being a player or young coach, but Coach Babb really helped me improve my baseball IQ over the five years I was at Hopkins.”

— Coach Justin Reitz

After leaving Hopkins for North Carolina, Reitz taught and coached at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh. In one year at Athens, Reitz helped to lead the Jaguars to an 8-2 conference record, good for second in their conference. On the topic of his time at Athens, Reitz stated, “Athens Drive was a good experience for me, it made me excited for high school baseball because I was able to develop relationships with the players there.” 

In addition, there was another reason that coaching at a high school was special to Reitz, “Especially since I teach special education, I don’t get to mix with general education population very often, so getting to meet the kids and know the kids and be able to build those relationships with guys that I won’t see in my classes every day was a really good experience.”

Furthermore, coaching at Athens allowed Reitz to transition from coaching in college to coaching in a high school program. “Coaching [at Athens] allowed me to see the differences and nuances between college and high school baseball. It was really good to see how Coach Webster over at Athens ran a high school practice, so that allowed me to be able to blend in what I learned at Hopkins and mix that in with high school practices.”

The difference between high school and college baseball is stark. In the offseason, college baseball players practice six days a week as well as team lifting three to four days a week. Toward the end of the fall, teams play intrasquad games, climaxing in a fall world series where two teams play high-intensity games in a best-of-three series. High school baseball has a less intensive offseason, with only three workouts per week and no team lifting sessions. 

Under Coach Michael Miragliuolo, the Falcons had lots of success winning several conference championships and reaching the state finals in 2016. Coach Reitz looks to continue this legacy. (Mason Dean)

When Reitz transitioned to the high school game, he saw many differences. According to Reitz, the most significant was the post-new year preseason. He stated, “At Hopkins, we had about a month to get ready for our first game, but here at high school, we only have two weeks. We have tryouts for two or three days, and then we only have about ten days before our first game. Here [at high school] it feels more like a sprint, after five practices and two scrimmages we are playing our first game.”

When longtime Green Hope baseball coach Michael Miragliuolo moved to an Assistant Athletic Director position, Coach Justin Reitz was named the new varsity head coach on June 26.

Knowing that the spring preseason is short, Reitz wanted to jump right into action. Reitz said, “We were able to do a few workouts in the summer, allowing me to meet the players, which was a big thing. I was also able to set the standard for what I expected the program to be, that way the foundation would be set when we got to the spring.”

The baseball team enters the 2024 season with big expectations. They are returning, seven starters, one being a Division I commit and one earning all-region honors last season. Also, with the addition of a very promising sophomore from New Jersey and several intriguing freshmen, the potential for the varsity team is very high. Reitz expressed his goals for the season by commenting, “We want to make the playoffs and be competitive in every game. In addition, I want to see how the team grows and see if we are getting better. I want us to compete for a SWAC (conference) championship and the way to do that is to get better every day.”

After playing at the high school and college level, and coaching at the high school and college level, Coach Justin Reitz is ready to lead a veteran team to the playoffs and beyond.

 

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About the Contributor
Mason Dean, Staff Writer
Mason is a junior at Green Hope and this is his first year on the staff. He loves sports and is on the varsity baseball and basketball teams here at Green Hope. Mason has a knack for math and history. Outside of school, he plays on a club baseball team and spends time with his 2 dogs, Margo and Olaf. While on break, Mason loves to travel to new places with his family. He has 3 siblings and in the future, he plans to play baseball in college and attain a mathematics degree.
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