The Long Island Lutheran girl’s basketball program yesterday announced Christina Raiti will be the new Head Coach of the Lady Crusaders Basketball Team.
After 12 seasons at the helm, Coach Rich Slater cited the Coronavirus among one of the reasons why he decided to step down, in a NewsDay.com article.
But the hoops program is being handed over to the capable, passionate hands of Raiti, a former LuHi player and assistant coach whom Slater has been grooming to take over the reins over the last few years, she noted.
Slater led LuHi to an unprecedented 234-58 record and four New York State Federation championships during his long tenure, a performance that will be hard-pressed for anyone to ever match.
But Raiti said she’s mentally prepared and up for the challenge.
“They are going to be big shoes to fill,” Raiti said. “He’s been showing me the system, introducing me to the right people. Rich and I spoken about this. I kind of knew his time at LuHi was coming near. But I feel pretty ready at this point. I feel as ready as I can be.”
Raiti enjoyed an illustrious playing career as a Lady Crusader hoopster. The 27-year-old Assistant Athletic Director became a 1,000-point scorer, as well as an all-league selection, four-time All-Long Island honoree, and 2012 All-State player for her high school team that captured one league title, one Federation New York State crown in 2011 and reached two New York State Finals.
However, when the Kings Park, Long Island, resident attended Division-III Trinity College (NESCAC) in Hartford, Connecticut, she realized her role had to change from a scorer to more of a facilitator and role player.
Raiti said she did the little things to help her squad win games. While she averaged 5.2 points per tilt over her four years as a Bantam, it was her intangibles that made its mark on Trinity’s Women’s Hoops program.
That’s the same philosophy Raiti said she instills in her players at every turn.
“Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to need to put the ball in the hoop,” she said. “But you’re going to have to do what’s best for the team. Your role is not going to be the same on two different teams.”
Other principals that drive Raiti’s competitive coaching philosophies are trust and investment, which, she explained, goes both ways.
As for trust, she said, “They have to understand I’m going to run through a wall for them, and they need to do the same (for the coaching staff).”
As for investment, Raiti said, “We’re showing them we’re investing in them more than just basketball; investment in them as whole individuals,” hopefully improving their overall lives in the process.
Raiti said she hasn’t reached her point of success in life all by herself.
“I have a lot of support from the people around me,” said Raiti, who played AAU ball for the Long Island Lighting and Exodus Connecticut. I feel very fortunate to have a community around me and very happy to have this support.
“It’s hard to go anywhere without your tribe behind you, and I have that,” she continued.”It really is a blessing. It’s a bright spot in this (world) of uncertainty.”
— Jerry Del Priore