Rick Hitt’s Service to College Athletics Reaches Far Beyond Panther Field
“We really held our own against the other teams,” Hitt said. “Many of the teams for the other countries were professional level, so to finish fourth was great. It was also a very proud feeling to represent the United States and to wear ‘USA’ across our shirts.”
Hitt was chosen for the NJCAA/ USA Team position after being nominated by Harry Tholen, his former baseball coach. Tholen coached Hitt when he played at Santa Fe Community College in 1985. “Rick is a man of character and integrity,” Tholen said. “He is one of the special people in junior college athletics. He does a great job working with student athletes, and I knew he would do a great job for the USA team.”
Hitt began his career as a baseball coach 23 years ago. This fall, he begins his 13th year at SFCC, but during his time at SFCC he has gone above and beyond the responsibilities of coach and athletic director. Hitt has been actively involved in state and national college baseball and athletic organizations throughout his career. Currently, he serves as the Suncoast Conference Baseball Chairperson for which he is in charge of coordinating all baseball-related activities and the conference rules handbook. He is on the Florida Community College Activities Association (FCCAA) State Baseball Committee and helps organize and run its annual state tournament and fall All-Star game. Hitt is also a member of the FCCAA Council for Athletic Affairs where he meets with all of the athletic directors in Florida to ensure that SFCC is current on policy and to represent SFCC. He serves as the NJCAA vice president for the Coach’s Association and international baseball chairperson for which he attends national meetings, helps inform the national body of rules changes and additions, and works to solidify international competition every other year. Finally, Hitt serves on the National Alliance of Two-Year College Athletic Administrators (NATYCAA) in which he helps organize a national convention for athletic directors.
“When Rick played for me at Santa Fe Community College, he was one of the most intense, hardworking, and goal oriented people I had ever met,” Tholen said. “I’m not surprised that he is so involved. His national work really shows what other people think of him. Not many people get a chance to do what Rick does, and it shows what a credit he is to South Florida Community College.
Hitt credits his parents for helping him develop a strong work ethic at a young age. He tries to instill this work ethic and sense of service in his student athletes as well. Under Hitt’s guidance, SFCC’s student athletes participate in 12-20 community service projects a year. “There are a lot of good feelings in life,” Hitt said. “Service to mankind is one of them.”
“Coach Hitt does some incredible work,” said Dr. Leana Revell, vice president, educational and student services. “He is an outstanding coach and an outstanding leader. We are pleased to have him at SFCC, and it is a great honor to have had Rick represent community college athletics at an international level.”
“I’m really grateful that my wife and children are supportive of me,” Hitt said. “I spend a lot of time working.”
But why is Hitt’s work so important to him? “There are always people who serve. Those before me laid a broad foundation for athletics all over the country, and I want to continue that work. There is a sense of representation you get from being a part of something important.”