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by Tim Covey
I am ecstatic to welcome current Bryan College Head Coach Mark Rirtchhart to the Covey Sports team! Coach Ritchhart will be serving the Covey Sports community by providing regular content on the Softball Coach Online Blog as well as inside the Intermediate To Expert Softball Coaching Membership Site.
I have known Mark since 2004 and he embodies the word "coach." While our high school teams were once competitive rivals, there was always a mutual respect by our players and coaching staffs.
As you will quickly learn about Coach Ritchhart, he not only has a great knowledge of the game, but also (and more importantly) a heart for developing the character of the young ladies that he leads.
While he has won multiple state championships at the High School level...what has impressed me the most over the years is his commitment to getting the most out of his teams no matter their talent-level. And that is why he has been able to build successful championship programs from the ground-up.
Coach Ritchhart took the reigns as the Head Coach at Bryan College in August, 2017. Bryan College is a 4-year NAIA school in Dayton, TN.
Hailing from the Midwest in the small town of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Ritchhart came to Bryan from McPherson, Kan. where he transformed the struggling culture of Central Christian College's softball team into a program destined for success after two seasons leading the Tigers. He began serving at Central Christian College in 2015 after a 31-year stint spent in Orlando, Fla.
Following his graduation from Northeast Missouri State University, Ritchhart put his baseball career on hold and decided to chase after his passion of water skiing. His skillset on the water gave way to numerous opportunities to compete at the professional level in the Sunshine State, including performances in shows at Sea World and Cypress Gardens.
Garnering multiple national and international titles and records on the water, Ritchhart also found the time to start his fastpitch softball coaching career in the 1990's.
Beginning in 2000, Ritchhart called Pine Castle Christian Academy in Orlando, Fla. his home for the next 15 years. In addition to serving as Athletic Director, Dean of Students, Director of Student Development, Director of Character Development, and Bible and Physical Education teacher, the role that remained constant for Ritchhart was the Head Coaching position of the varsity softball team.
His efforts at the helm earned him a positive and highly respected reputation in the state of Florida for running a collegiate style program, producing both high character and level of play. Success trailed Ritchhart in the starting of two travel softball programs that were known for their character in sportsmanship, excellence of fundamentals and relentless aggressive play.
Coach Ritchhart has been married for 31 years to his wife, Renae, an elementary school teacher and softball fan. They have two children, Leah and Lyssa. Their oldest daughter, Leah, completed her education degree while assistant coaching alongside Coach Ritchhart at Central Christian. She played collegiate softball for four total years while attending Lake Sumter Community College and Emmanuel College.
Their youngest daughter, Lyssa, started her college career as a student athlete at William Penn University before transferring to become a Tiger, playing for her dad and sister at Central Christian College. She is graduating in May 2018 with a Psychology degree.
Ritchhart brings a wealth of knowledge as a former professional athlete, a teacher through all levels of education, and multiple years of coaching experience. He is certified as a personal trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
He was named the 2A Florida Coach of the Year a total of six times, earning the title of District Coach of the Year nine consecutive seasons, coaching eight district championship teams, five regional championship teams, two state runner-up teams, a trio of state championship teams, and over 30 years of coaching experience.
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by Mark Ritchhart
by Tim Covey