Dayton, Tenn. - The Bryan College Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is glad to announce the hiring of Mark Ritchhart as the Head Coach of the Lady Lions Softball program.
"I am extremely grateful to Bryan College, and my Lord, to receive the head softball coaching position," said Coach Ritchhart. "Every step of the hiring process was a confirmation that Jesus is at the center of Bryan College. This feeling excites me greatly because Christ-like Character is also what drives my softball program. My visit to campus was the validation that this is where I can build a team that will have an impact for Christ, both on and off the field. I pray our softball program will be known around the area and country by the way we conduct ourselves, exude excellence, and produce outstanding young women!"
Ritchhart is just the third Head Softball Coach since softball returned to Bryan College in the spring of 2011.
Hailing from the Midwest in the small town of Oskaloosa, Iowa, Ritchhart comes 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. After garnering multiple national and international titles and records on the water, Ritchhart hung up his skis and began his softball coaching career in the late 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 keeping Christ above all else and competing with fundamental and aggressive play.
During Mark's time at Central Christian, his wife, Renae, brought her 23 years experience as an elementary school teacher to her position on campus as the President's Executive Assistant. Their oldest daughter, Leah, completed her education degree while assistant coaching alongside her dad at Central Christian. She played collegiate softball for four total years while attending Lake Sumter Community College and Emmanuel College. Their youngest daughter, Lyssa, competed at William Penn University her freshman year before transferring to Central Christian where she sported the Tiger uniform under the watch of her father for two years as the starting shortstop and is set to finish her psychology degree this coming year.
Ritchhart brings a wealth of knowledge to Bryan having been certified as a personal trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, being 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 provides over 20 years of softball coaching experience.
"I am very excited to bring Coach Ritchhart on staff as our softball coach," Athletic Director Taylor Hasty remarked, "He has a wealth of experience as a coach and his heart for furthering the Gospel in the lives of his players speaks volumes about the work he will do here at Bryan as a discipler."