Ramella enjoys going to work everyday
It wasn’t a typical morning when Dennis Ramella sat down to talk about his career in high school athletics.
He was coming off a weekend as the chairman of District 11 swimming that saw him go from having everything ready to go at Parkland High School for the district swim meet to having his whole world turned around by a Nor’easter.
The storm knocked out power at Parkland High School and with no idea on when the power would be back, the decision was made to pick up the whole event and move it to Emmaus High School.
The change meant not only notifying all of the schools involved, but the officials and all of the staff that would be needed to make it all work. Janitorial staff, booster clubs, ticket takers and others all had to be alerted, and in many instances give up their weekend off to pull together a major high school athletic event.
Ramella went to work on the task with a goal of making it seamless for the student athletes involved in the event.
“I am so proud of my staff here at Emmaus, because nobody questioned how they were going to get it done or what was in it for them, they just went to work,” said Ramella. “I had to tell people who planned on a weekend off with their families that I needed them and many of them were dealing with power outages or other issues at home and nobody complained.”
The district meet went off as if it had all been planned for months. Exhibitors were all set up.
A concession stand was pulled together with the cooperation of booster clubs from both Emmaus and Parkland high schools and the event went off without a problem. It went better than Ramella could have imagined.
“We were even able to get closed-circuit television so that people who couldn’t get into the pool area could still see their kids swim,” said Ramella, explaining that the IT Department went above and beyond to make that happen. “I wouldn’t have expected that we would be able to do that and pull it all together, but my staff made it happen.”
It was just another thing that the longest tenured athletic director in the Lehigh Valley had to deal with.
Athletic directors with less experience may have balked at how it could be pulled off, but for Ramella, it was just a minor curve in the road. That comes with 32 years of experience and will be greatly missed when Ramella retires at the end of the school year, ending a 19-year run at Emmaus.
While events like the one that caused a long, tiring weekend for Ramella present challenges, they don’t dampen his passion for the job. In fact, the passion is strong enough that he’ll be sticking around Emmaus athletics to help at games, whether serving as a PA announcer, operating a scoreboard or taking tickets.
“I have honestly never woken up and said ‘I don’t want to go to work today,’” he said with a smile. “I’ve had days like today [the Monday following districts] where I was tired and wanted to sleep in a little longer, but even on those days, I love what I do.”.
Ramella didn’t necessarily set out to be an athletic director. He was a social studies teacher at Central Catholic High School and then the chair of the social studies department and serving as an assistant coach on the Vikings basketball team that won a state championship. He’s had opportunities, even since becoming an athletic director, to move into serving as an assistant principal with a path to even loftier jobs, but he turned them down.
He spent 13 years as the AD at Central Catholic before being convinced by former Emmaus guidance counselor and principal to jump ship and join the Hornets.
“When Jim Hodrick retired as the principal at Central Catholic, I started to think about the future,” remembers Ramella. “I was approached by Dr. Corradetti about the job at Emmaus and I started to think that maybe it would be better for a fresh set of eyes to take over at Central Catholic and maybe they could find better ways of doing things.
“Dr. (Herman) Corradetti really gave me some insight into things and I decided to come over here and I’ve enjoyed my time tremendously.”
Editor’s Note: This article is the first in a series about Ramella’s career as an athletic director. He recently announced that he will retire at the end of this school year.