Superstar behind the scenes

Beth Rittler is an essential part of the Hamline athletics community and yet, select few really know her for who she is.

Rachel Peterson
Rittler’s favorite place on campus is the pool deck.

Whenever a Hamline student goes to a home game, they can almost always spot Associate Director for Athletics Beth Rittler in the crowd. 

“Probably one of my favorite things is getting to watch our student athletes compete. I love to be able to go to the games and hopefully they see that I’m there supporting them,” Rittler said. 

Rittler has held her title at Hamline for nearly sixteen years. She focuses on the financial management for the Hamline Athletics program, as well as overseeing the swim and tennis programs for men and women.

Prior to her position behind the scenes, Rittler was once a student athlete at Hamline.  

“I was a nontraditional student so I came back [to Hamline] because I missed that college experience,” Rittler said. “I never lived on campus, but I went to school full time. I was a swimmer on the swim team, but I also worked at least 30 hours a week. Our students now can relate to that kind of thing but I wouldn’t change it for anything.” 

Hard work is a habit for Rittler, who worked her way up to the position she has now. 

“It just worked out that I came back as a favor to a friend and worked part time actually out at the front desk of Walker and just helped out there, and that athletic director left and my job grew over time,” Rittler said. 

Hamline is a soft spot for Rittler who transformed the love of her time as a student athlete into a coaching position on the Hamline swim and dive team in the late 90s. 

“I mean I just have a major feeling of loyalty and love for this place, the entire institution, but athletics specifically just because I know I had such a good experience and then my family did too,” Rittler said. 

Having sisters and brothers in law who attended Hamline, as well as finding an amazing coach in Marty Knight, the women’s swim coach from 1973-1990, Rittler was inspired during her time as a student athlete, something she hopes she can pass to current students. 

“I think they see that I’m committed, I’m here a lot, I try to go to as many home events as I can. I definitely want to be that person for them,” Rittler said. 

Rittler’s impact on student athletes does not go unnoticed, helping her achieve the goal of being a role model for others. Senior Taylor Hopkins, the captain of the women’s tennis team, has had very positive experiences with Rittler.

“I absolutely love and admire her. I have had a lot of issues over the past few years with athletics and she’s been a great resource which I’ve been able to go to and talk to,” Hopkins said. “She’s been with our team since my freshman year and she’s one person that I actually feel comfortable reaching out to.”

Rachel Peterson
As a former member of the Hamline swim team, Rittler has fond memories here.

Rittler has made it clear that her door is always open, especially to female athletes like Hopkins who feel that their program is lacking in equitable support systems. 

“That’s something that we tell all of our students, and if they have something that they need, there are many of us that they can come talk to,” Rittler said. “For sure our female athletes, I’d love to have them come in. It’s an opportunity for me to get to visit with them, whether it’s a problem or just somebody checking in.”

With pressure mounting on female athletes, and a lack of gender diversity amongst Hamline coaching staff, Rittler’s support of female athletes is a welcomed tool of empowerment. 

“Being a female athlete, there’s a lot [of] higher expectations to be both equally decent at sports and academics which has been a ‘fun’ balance to maintain,” Hopkins said.

While 70 percent of head coaching roles at Hamline are filled by men, female athletes are finding it hard to see themselves in administrative roles within athletics, something that Rittler is aware of. 

“You never want to see turnover in a department, but if we ever have job openings of course we would love to see more females applying,” Rittler saidMany of our student athletes are interested in coaching and moving on, so we need to do a good job of talking with them and helping them with their leadership skills and their growth in coaching or administration.”

Rittler’s passion for athletics at Hamline empowers the students around her. With goals of having more diverse representation in place for the future, Hamline athletics will hopefully impart the same positive impact on current Pipers as it did when Rittler was a student.