Rande Stottlemyer, an iconic former Pitt wrestler and longtime coach, died today due to complications of early onset Alzheimer’s, according to the University. He was 62.
Stottlemyer — whose association with Pitt spanned nearly four decades — was a three-time All-American wrestler for the Panthers. Enrolling at Pitt in 1974, he compiled a career record of 68-16-2 and became team captain for the Panthers.
Following his graduation from Pitt in 1978, Stottlemyer served as assistant coach for the Panthers. In 1979, he took over as head coach, leading the Panthers for 34 seasons. He retired as the winningest coach in program history with a 304-231-12 record in April 2013.
When Stottlemyer retired, he thanked Pitt for giving him the opportunity to coach right of out college.
“I have been blessed to have lived my passion for 35 years. I hope in that time I have been able to make a positive impact on a lot of young men’s lives,” he said. “It has been an honor to be their coach and to promote the great sport of wrestling.”
The Pitt wrestling community reacted to the news on Twitter, sharing memories of Stottlemyer’s presence and spirit as a coach.
Former Pitt News sports editor and Pitt wrestling camp attendee Steve Rotstein recalls the coach’s kindness.
“I still remember losing $20 one night at wrestling camp so I couldn’t buy any snacks,” Rotstein tweeted. “He let me have all the candy I wanted for free. Safe to say he’s been a legend in my book ever since.”
Donnie Tasser, a former Pitt wrestler, was part of Stottlemyer’s last senior class as a coach. He wrote a 2013 Pitt News column that “the positive impact ‘Stotty’ — as we liked to call him — had on so many of his wrestler’s lives cannot be measured in simple statistics.”
PJ Tasser, Donnie’s brother and also a former Pitt wrestler, took to Twitter Sunday to express his condolences.
“The wrestling & Pitt communities lost a true mentor and friend this morning,” he wrote. “Rest in paradise, Coach Stottlemyer. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything.”
Now-head coach Keith Gavin also wrestled under Stottlemyer during his time at Pitt.
“Coach Stottlemyer gave me an opportunity of a lifetime by bringing me to Pitt,” Gavin said. “He never gave up on me when a lot of other coaches probably would have and for that I am forever grateful.”
Stottlemyer’s Hall of Fame recognitions include selection to the Eastern Wrestling League Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Lifetime Service to Wrestling Award.
Visitation will be this Thursday and Friday, from 2 to 8 p.m., at Ferguson Funeral Home in Belle Vernon. There will also be an additional visitation on Saturday, from 9 to 11 a.m.