Why city's top coach is more a friend, mentor
IPSWICH'S' "coach of the year'' Peter Reeves considers himself a mentor and psychologist rather than a person who cracks the proverbial whip demanding more.
"I don't ever think of myself so much as a coach because these people, I just run with them,'' Reeves said.
"I can't keep up with them for a lot of the way . . . but I do everything that they do.
"I think of myself more as an athlete than as a coach.''
That's why he doesn't receive money from the elite athletes he regularly works with in the high quality NANCI (Naturally Athletic Nurtured Culturally in Ipswich) squad.
Reeves, about to turn 65, enjoys sharing his knowledge with other serious runners.
Having been mentored by one of Australia's leading coaches Pat Clohessy, the Eastern Heights resident is proud of his individual achievements which include previous state and national championship successes and holding Queensland records in masters competition. He has succeeded over a range of events from 800m and 1500m to 3km and 5km in his current 55-65 years masters division.
"I've always had a high profile with masters running,'' said Reeves, who is one of the top runners for his age in Australia.
Reeves has coached much of his life, going back to his teaching days when he worked with athletic squads.
He moved into the Ipswich area in 1991, having taught at a number of schools around the state.
Reeves spent many years learning from internationally regarded Clohessy, during his earlier career and working with Peter's Ipswich-bred son Chris who was also a national representative.
"He (Clohessy) was probably Australia's best ever coach,'' Reeves said.
"I had a lot to do with him through my kids. He mentored them.
"I learnt so much but basically you've got to be a psychologist.
"If you're a dictator and you just have a brutal one size fits all, it doesn't really work.
"Everyone is unique and unless you can get into their mind space and work out what makes them tick, it's really, really difficult.''
Reeves has enjoyed getting to understand the psychology of better regional athletes like incredibly ambitious marathoner Clay Dawson and cross country achiever Tamara Carvolth.
In his experience, a good coach needs to persuade athletes not to exceed their limits while fulfilling their goals.
"If you're their iron lung all the time, trying to get them to do the work and to train, well they're probably not going to make it,'' he said.
"But if they've got a tendency to self-destruction and you can just temper them a little bit, you've got champions.''
Reeves said Aussie marathon great Robert de Castella's coach Clohessy has also helped him as an athlete.
"He's actually been my mentor and he's really got me from a low standard as a master to one of the best in the world . . . and it's all down to him,'' he said.
"He produced so many Olympians and world champions. He just had that some-thing. He was a great influence.''
Reeves offered a valuable insight into his coaching approach when facing tough challenges.
"If I'm in a bad situation coaching, I always sort of think: 'Well what would Pat do?'' Reeves said.
As for why he coaches his NANCI squad members for free, Reeves refers to another piece of wisdom from a high-profile NRL mentor.
"Wayne Bennett said there are two types of coaching: 'The ones who are sacked, and the ones who are going to be sacked','' Reeves said.
"And if you're doing it as a profession, monetary, it takes something away from it.
"If you are just there as a friend, being a mentor to these runners, it works much better.''
Fresh from another "big tour of Ipswich'' morning run, Reeves was surprised to win the coaching honour at the recent City of Ipswich Sports Awards.
However, he was clearly a popular choice judging by the reaction on the night and follow-up chatter.
"It was amazing. I was a bit lost for words,'' he said. "I really appreciated it.''