Rande Stottlemyer, Pitt Wrestling great and Head Coach of 34 years passed away Sunday morning at the age of 62. While his cause of death is still unknown, Rande had been battling with one of the worst diseases known to man, Alzheimer’s. It is extremely sad to watch someone’s memory and personality slowly disappear from the world with this most awful pathology, but even while he was still alive, “Stotty” was always remembered in the most positive of lights.
One of Rande’s most successful athletes, and his last National Champion, is current Head Coach Keith Gavin. Gavin reflected on his mentor: “Rande was a special person. I’m grateful to have had him as a coach. His influence and guidance is something that I learned to appreciate more and more as I matured.”
Pat Santoro, two time NCAA Champion and Pitt’s only four time All-American is Lehigh’s Head Coach. He had nothing but heartfelt and warm memories of his coach and mentor.
“The way he treated everyone, starter or non-starter, he treated everyone the same, he cared about everybody, he wanted to make sure everybody that went to Pitt had a great experience and was prepared when they left Pitt. It seems like every Pitt wrestler that wrestled for him had a special connection. He kind of brought them all together and a lot of generations of wrestling know each other just because of him.”
Santoro stressed that Rande’s impact stretched far beyond wrestling. “He’s meant so much to my life and my family. His motto of “never ever quit” and to carry that with everything you do. He’s had such an impact on our lives, it’s deeper than coaching. He was a friend, he was a mentor. The day I met him I knew I wanted to wrestle for him.”
PJ Tasser, Pitt class of 2014, and widely known as the epitome of a selfless athlete had this to share:
“It’s hard to grasp the full magnitude of people he touched. He was a guy everyone knew on campus, and was always there to lend an ear when something was on your mind. He embodied the Pittsburgh spirit, that ‘get it done no matter what’ blue collar mentality. He never wanted any credit. He never wanted any recognition. He just wanted to help you achieve your goals, and maybe sneak in a game or two of partner dodgeball. His famous line of “the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed” was something you heard echo throughout the room. He didn’t want us to just be there, he wanted us to be dedicated to our craft. He was truly one of a kind, and we are all better people from knowing Rande.”
It is hard to say if coach Stottlemyer was more successful as a wrestler himself, or as a coach. While wrestling at Pitt, Rande was a three time All American, a most impressive feat. As a coach, Rande led the Panthers to 304 dual wins, three Eastern Wrestling League (EWL) regular season championships, three EWL tournament championships, and two 15th place finishes nationally. Additionally, he produced 56 EWL individual champions, 33 NCAA All Americans, and three NCAA champions. He was named EWL coach of the year five times.
Rande’s tenure at Pitt had so many great wrestlers and people come through the program. While impossible to quantify the impact he had on so many young lives, a few of his more recent athletes shared their thoughts about how he changed theirs.
Tyler Nauman, four time EWL champion and two time All American:
“Coach Stottlemyer was more than just our coach. He was a family man, a mentor, a teacher, a competitor, an inspiration, and most importantly a friend to all of us at Pitt. Many even looked at Coach as another father figure and would go to him for advice, on and off the mat. Coach wore his heart on his sleeve and always put his family (biological and team) first. He would go above and beyond to help anyone. We learned many things from Coach but never giving up was probably the biggest. I, myself inspired to be just part of the coach and mentor Coach Stottlemyer was! One saying he said that sticks with many of us was, “water off a duck’s back” meaning to let things go and continue to focus on what we could control!”
Drew Headlee, All American and current assistant Coach:
“Rande was so much more than just a wrestling coach, he was able to leave a lasting impression on each and every person that went through the program. His dedication was second to none.”
Lastly, here is a wonderful tribute to the man who led Pitt wrestling for over three decades, produced so many successful alumni, and shaped the program for years to come.