Community remembers inspiring teacher and coach


Elementary school teacher and Conestoga coach Pete Ricci passed away on Dec. 15, 2019 following a two-year battle with cancer, leaving behind a legacy of inspiration, compassion and enthusiasm. 

Ricci was born on May 27, 1952 in Providence, Rhode Island. He is survived by his wife, Lorri Ricci, of 38 years and his sons P.T., Garrett and Brent. Ricci worked at the Sun Oil Company for 18 years and also acted as an NCAA women’s basketball referee before leaving to pursue his lifelong dream of teaching.

“He never looked back and always said that (pursuing a teaching career) was the best decision he ever made,” Lorri Ricci said. “It was a scary decision at the time, but he loved every minute of it. I think his students loved him too.” 

 Pete Ricci spent 23 years as a teacher at Beaumont Elementary and Valley Forge Middle School. Ricci’s passion for sports would even follow him off the field and into the classroom.

“I know he put a lot of coaching into his teaching. He would have his students run a football play and take the attendance sheet and run it out of the room and down to the main office. He would play sports games on the chalkboard; he would make all the learning into sports. Coaching a lot of time is teaching,” son and current freshman football coach P.T. Ricci said. 

Aside from teaching, Pete Ricci was also an influential part of the Conestoga High School sports program for over 20 years, coaching football, baseball, girls basketball and girls softball teams.

“I watched him, year after year, take a collection of individuals and unite them into one team who cared for each other, cheered for each other, and played their hearts out for their coach,” physical education teacher John Johns, who coached with Ricci for 15 years,  said. “Coach Ricci inspired, motivated, counseled, and consoled his players.  Most of all, he made his players smile and laugh.”

One of his biggest goals was to dedicate a practice field to the girls’ softball team, which currently practices off campus. Days before he passed, Ricci met with the team one last time. 

“Coach Ricci was the best coach I have ever had. He gave me strength and believed in me throughout my career,” senior softball player Lauren Lofland said. “He gave us a speech about doing what you love and putting your heart into everything you do. Him coming to our practice meant the world to the team and we continue to have coach Ricci with us at bat.”

Ricci also enjoyed writing letters to former students. Whether he was reaching out to students who graduated or trying to help them through hard times, he continued shaping their lives outside the classroom.

“Every time we went out anywhere, people would come up to him and go, ‘Mr. Ricci, Mr. Ricci,’ and stop and talk to him,” Lorri Ricci said. “We used to call him the mayor of Berwyn because he knew everybody and would stop to talk to everybody.”   

A memorial service celebrating Ricci’s life was held Dec. 21. Over one thousand people were in attendance, with some past students flying all the way from California to attend. Prior to the memorial, Jones created a Google Drive where over 200 videos from past students and athletes were shared, showcasing a lifetime of the impact he left on those around him. 

“He was able to impact their lives and give them confidence and make them feel that whoever they are was just enough. He told me that that’s why he wanted to get into coaching and get into teaching — so he could truly have an impact on people instead of just breezing past them. His big thing was leaving things better than the way you found them, and I think he did that,” P.T. Ricci said.