Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Coaching is about helping young people have a chance to succeed. . . One of the greatest honors a person can have is being called 'Coach'." Lou Holtz

I am both humbled and honored to be the recipient of a The Distinguished Coaching Award, as I was inducted into the North Allegheny Hall of Fame on October 5. I coached Girls' and then Boys' Golf for 33 years, and I served on the WPIAL (Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, which governs all high schools sports in the area) for 37 years.  I loved teaching, but I adored coaching. Nothing is better. 

I am posting part of my acceptance speech this week to inspire teachers to work with students outside the classroom.  Although my late husband and I did not have our own children, coaching allowed me to have hundreds of students to influence, and a fulfilling life of service. I am posting this blog to inspire teachers to do more, by connecting with students outside the classroom.  I think I captured my career in this short speech: 

Good evening.  I am humbled to be here tonight as an honoree along with so many fine athletes, many of whom were my students. Congratulations to everyone!

Those who know me know that I usually prefer to speak extemporaneously, but this occasion is so momentous that I wrote myself a few notes.

Let me begin by saying I love the game of golf, which offers so many lessons about life. From golf I have learned humility and patience, as well as perseverance and focus. Through the years, golf has been good to me, from working at US Opens, working as a rules official with the West Penn Golf Association, playing in hundreds of amateur tournaments, volunteering at national tournaments, getting to know people like Arnold Palmer and Lee Trevino and Hank Haney, and even Byron Nelson, and meeting and playing with so many new friends.  I always told my players that golf and good manners will get you into places that money never will, and they came to learn just how true those words are. I am happy that I could give something back to golf through coaching at NA and serving on the WPIAL.
I loved teaching for 37 years, and I also loved coaching for 33 years.  

I never knew I would become a coach.  The late Vera Brandt, who taught physical education at NASH, was the person behind the girls golf program at NA.  She started the team in 1976, and when she retired in 1977, she named me as her successor.    In those days, just finding 5 girls to play on the golf team was a full-time job.  One year, I recruited 17 girls, and then girls’ soccer and field hockey were offered as letter sports, and I was right back to the original 5.  When the boys’ coaching job became available, I wanted to apply, but I felt that I would have no chance to be chosen.  My late husband, Scott Rittman, was the one who encouraged me to apply for the Boys coaching position.  I can remember Scott saying, “In that school district, who plays in more tournaments than you do?”  Who serves on the WPIAL?  Who runs more club tournaments than you do?  Who studies the USGA RULES?  17 applicants vied for that position, and I was chosen- and that was in the early 80’s!  It was a shock that NA was so forward-thinking, and for a total of 33 years I enjoyed being “Coach Rittman” as well as serving for 37  years on the WPIAL.   

I must give credit to Scott for much of my success. Golf season hours are long, and I had many 80+ hour weeks with teaching and coaching. Scott never minded all the hours I put in with the kids, and Scott was, in fact, a great supporter of NA golf.  Near the end of his life when he could hardly walk because the cancer had metastasized to his back, we drove to Nemacolin to see John McCabe and Kevin O’Brien in their practice rounds for an upcoming tournament.  It was the last fun trip he had before the pain was too great to get out of bed.  Scott would be so thrilled to see me receive this great honor, which I share with him, because I could not have done without his constant support.

Coaching, just like teaching, is all about relationships. At my retirement party, I spoke about the great fulfillment I received from serving students outside the classroom.  Whether directing the musical and the talent show or coaching golf, getting to know students outside the classroom as people, creating and sharing common goals, working together as a team, encouraging players to be their best and to work hard, and creating bonds of mutual respect have all been great joys to me.  Just being with the team was so wonderful. I would be exhausted after teaching all day, and as soon as I saw the team, my energy would return! You know, I even liked writing all those college letters of recommendation helping the boys to find the best school and program. I really enjoyed teaching, but Coaching will always be my favorite job.

My sincere thanks to the NA Hall of Fame Committee, especially Bob Bozzuto, who is one of the finest men I have ever known. And I am delighted that Pat Niven, the current Varsity Head Boys’ Golf coach, my former JV coach, is here tonight, along with my brother George, my sister in law Joan, and my former colleagues and friends.  

I close with a quote from Lou Holtz that summarizes why I coached “Coaching is about helping young people have a chance to succeed.  There is no more awesome responsibility than that. One of the greatest honors a person can have is being called COACH. “

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

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