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Get To Know Hopewell Resident Doug Ritchart and his business, KA Sports

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Having the chance to work in the world of sports as your full-time job is pretty enjoyable as I can personally attest to.

For the last 20+ years, Hopewell resident Doug Ritchart has been interacting with professional athletes for his job, formerly Koeberle & Associates and now KA Sports.

Aside from owning KA Sports, Doug is an active member of the community with his wife Stacy and their two kids, Ella and Aiden. Doug currently serves as the booster president of the Hopewell High School Girls Soccer program.

What he does on a day-to-day basis and some of the athletes he’s been in contact with is something I found interesting and wanted to share it with you.

“The company used to be called Koeberle & Associates and I got hired right after graduating from Robert Morris University back in 2001,” Ritchart told HSN. “At the beginning of 2022, is when I bought the company from my old boss, so I’m midway into year No. 3 of being on my own. In 2022, it went from being called Koeberle & Associates to KA Sports.”

So, that’s the intro, but what does Ritchart and his company do on a daily basis? A lot of it involves athletes that you might be familiar with.

“We work on behalf of a client. Our motto is to build a client’s brand through sports and entertainment. Whether it be though an appearance with a current professional athlete or a retired athlete or celebrity, that’s kind of what we do. They hire and come to us and say ‘we have this marketing promotion that we need to do, we want to get more fans at our ballpark or arenas for a home game. I then need to know what they want to spend, what type of athlete for celebrity they’re looking for, what they need the athlete for celebrity to do. From there, I can recommend players/celebrities that can fit what they’re trying to do.”

“I consider myself an extension of their front office or marketing department. There’re agents out there that represent the athletes’ side of things, I represent the client side of things. I work for the client and try and get them the best bang for their buck or marketing and promotional needs.”

This past weekend, KA Sports and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds soccer organization brought in WWE Hall of Fame wrester Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan to make an appearance during the Riverhounds game.

Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan

Other recent athletes/celebrities that Ritchart and KA Sports worked with in 2024 include names such as former Steeler Ike Taylor (to Altoona Curve game), NFL Hall of Fame WR Drew Pearson (Auto Show in Dallas), former Penguin Ryan Malone (Johnstown Tomahawks), NHL Hall of Famer and former Pittsburgh Penguin Paul Coffey (Altoona Curve), former Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies great Billy Wagner (Reading Hot Stovers) and Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jaylen Warren (Johnstown Tomahawks).

Jaylen Warren

“The majority of the athletes that I deal with are retired,” said Ritchart. “Just because I can get to retired athletes directly. While there’s a lot of great current athletes out there, you still have to go through their agents and sometimes that can be an extra hurdle. There’s still a big demand for retired athletes, whether they’re Hall of Famers or just local legends that people are still familiar with.”

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One of the biggest challenges that Ritchart deals with is being able to work with what the clients are willing to spend and match them up with an athlete. His experience in the business is something that’s been an asset.

Paul Coffey

“One of the things that I provide myself is being in the industry for 20+ years, if a client has a budget of X, then names automatically pop in my head. I then tell the client that these athletes will go above and beyond what you need them to do and will also fit into your budget. Sometimes the challenging part is to gently educate the client and say, ‘hey I know that this isn’t the super Hall of Fame name, but you don’t have a budget for that but this guy here from a personal experience, I’ve worked with him 100 times, he’s going to do a great job for you.”

PREVIOUS ATHLETES THAT KA SPORTS HAS WORKED WITH:
-Dave Stewart (former MLB, CY Young Pitcher)
-Sean Casey (former MLB player)
-Phil Bourque (former Pittsburgh Penguin)
-Arthur Moats (former Pittsburgh Steeler/NFL linebacker)
-Clint Hurdle (former Pirates/MLB manager)
-Michael Winslow (Actor/Comedian)
-Judith O’Dea (Actress)
-Andre Dawson (MLB/Hall of Fame Outfielder)
-Michael Irvin (NFL/Hall of Fame Wide Receiver)
-Denis Potvin (NHL/Hall of Fame Defenseman)
-Brett Keisel (former Pittsburgh Steelers DE)
-Rollie Fingers (MLB/Hall of Fame Pitcher)

Being in the business this long, Ritchart has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of athletes, I asked him to think back to some of his personal favorites.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Jerome Bettis multiple times, he’s one of my favorites. Hines Ward is one of my favorites to work with. Antonio Brown is a different story but at the time, he was a big name. I had the chance to work with Tony Dorsett, had trading card deals with John Elway and Jerry Rice. The funny thing is, growing up, he’s not the biggest name but I was a huge Andy Van Slyke fan. When I got into the business, one of the very first events I worked on back in 2001, was a Legends of Baseball Game at Myrtle Beach and Andy Van Slyke was there. I don’t get star strucked but to this day, whenever I have to call Andy for something, it’s still ‘Oh my Gosh it’s Andy Van Slyke.”

Andy Van Slyke

Ritchart says that a lot of his business is repeat customers, but he still takes on new clients. Being a small business that number is limited but as he grows his business, he’ll be looking to take on more new customers in order to grow the business.

Doug doesn’t do as much traveling to events as he did when he first started, that’s one of the perks of being the boss. With the majority of KA Sports events being outside of Pittsburgh, Ritchart now relies on clients in those cities to work the events and picks and chooses when he wants to travel. Most of his appearances consist of going to Pittsburgh, Altoona and Johnstown because they’re close.

The best thing about his job is that it’s something that he truly enjoys doing and never feels like work or a job. That’s a real good way to make money and enjoy life.

“Especially now that I own the business, as you know, there’s a lot of flexibility with that whether it’s being able to go on a road trip with your kids for a sporting event or something like that,” said Ritchart. “I enjoy what I do, it’s very unique. When I was at Robert Morris, there were a ton of kids in the Sports Management Program and today, I’m one of the few, that are still in the industry. I don’t like to toot my own horn but that’s something I take pride in.”

“I get to meet not only the athletes and celebrities but the clients that I have the opportunity to work with. The folks at the Topps Trading Card Company, I’ve worked with for over 20 years, just getting to meet those guys has been great. It’s been a real honor and consider myself pretty lucky to be able to do what I do.”

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