Unknown olympic, professional athlete at FHC

As thousands of students and teachers walk the halls everyday, they encounter their peers without learning much about each other’s lives. They go without knowing the stories behind the faces. One of the stories that is unknown to most is the story of Mrs. Barb Riti. Many don’t know that Mrs. Riti led Canada’s national softball team as a team captain, played professional softball and toured as an alternate on Canada’s 1996 olympic softball team.

Being from Canada, Mrs. Riti was introduced to softball, as it was typical for kids to play hockey in the winter and softball in the summer. Her father had been a softball pitcher which also influenced her softball career, as he helped her with techniques.

“Even in the small town that I lived in, the boys played softball; they didn’t play baseball,” Mrs. Riti said. “My dad had been a softball pitcher, and he would take me out and play catch and do all that kind of stuff.”

After some exposure to softball from her father and her town, Palmerston Ontario Canada, Mrs. Riti tried out for a city team because her high school did not have a team because it was too cold in the fall and the spring to play. As her skill increased, a teammate presented an opportunity to advance and play college softball. She was offered a scholarship to play softball for the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Because of her time playing at Mizzou, Mrs. Riti’s talent was displayed on a bigger screen which allowed her to be an eventual asset to team Canada.

“When I met that [city] team and joined that team, I was playing with people that were a lot older than I was, and one of those girls was at Mizzou who introduced me to a coach down there. He came to watch me in Canada and offered me a full ride scholarship, and from there, I got exposure to national teams,” Mrs. Riti said.

As she advanced in her career, both as a student and as a player, Mrs. Riti began playing on Canada’s national team as a captain for a year and eventually for the 1996 Olympic team. She toured with the team as an alternate, but was not given the opportunity to travel with the team to Atlanta, because an injured player had returned to the team. While this was unfortunate for Riti, she was thankful for the opportunity to have a role in the team.

“I was just a young kid then, and they made a decision to take a girl who had been injured rather than to take me. So when they were getting the bus to leave to go to Georgia, I was on a plane heading back to Canada,” Mrs. Riti said. “It was just fun being a part of all the excitement leading up to the Olympics.”

Most of Spartan Nation does not know about these accomplishments, because Mrs. Riti feels that this is just a minor detail about herself that she has not shared with everyone because it was a phase in her life.

“I think there’s some kids that might know bits and pieces, but not the majority. This was a small chapter in my life, and it was very exciting and something to be very proud of…It’s just not something you talk about a lot,” Mrs. Riti said.

As her softball career advanced, her educational career did as well. While playing at Mizzou, Mrs. Riti studied to be a teacher, because she had dreamed of this her whole life. She was influenced by her family, because many of them had teaching positions, but this was also a desire of her own since childhood.

“I had wanted to be a teacher my whole life. As a kid, I used to make my sister and my cousins and my friends play school, so this is something that I’ve always wanted to be. It was just always what I was gonna do,” Mrs. Riti said.

Although teaching was always the plan for her life, she was unsure about the eventual position she would take, but she is grateful for the current position of her life.

“Did I think I would teach U.S. History, when I grew up in a small town in Ontario, Canada? Absolutely not, but I am happy with where I am,” Mrs. Riti said.

While in school, Mrs. Riti continued to play for Canada’s national team and after graduating from Mizzou, she was still playing softball as she began teaching. She was playing on a professional team which allowed her to remain in her teaching position and meet with the team for games on the weekends.

“When I played professional, I would actually fly out on the weekend, so that wasn’t a big deal at all. I was teaching in Columbia, Missouri then, and I wasn’t teaching when I was doing my national team stuff,” Mrs. Riti said.

While continuing teaching at FHC, Mrs. Riti is not a softball coach because she has other obligations to fill. She has a daughter, Elizabeth, who takes precedence over extracurricular activities, as the regular school hours take up enough of her day already. She also feels that the coaching staff is capable and competent in their work, so she is not needed in the staff.

“I have a little girl, and I have a nanny that takes her to school before school, and I just don’t think it’s fair to have somebody meet her after school too. She needs some mum time, and she’s the priority, and plus, they have a great coach here anyway,” Mrs. Riti said.

While Mrs. Riti achieved many great things, she feels that she could not have succeeded without a drive and a goal. Facing obstacles, she used these things to motivate her and keep her inspired.

“I think I’m pretty driven. I think if I have my eye on something, I tend to do whatever it takes to get there. Every time you’re going to have challenges, you’re going to have obstacles, and just being focused on where I wanted to be helped me make decisions on how I wanted to get there,” Mrs. Riti said.

She attributes much of her success to the help her parents provided her throughout her life.

“My parents were the biggest ones who had an influence on me. They were the ones who had to drive an hour each way for practice, and my dad played catch with me on a regular basis,” Mrs. Riti said. “There’s a lot of expense in traveling all over the country, so I would say my parents are the biggest [influence].”