Poking my PPS Board Member, Cynthia Falls, with some updates on PPS swimming


I had the pleasure of meeting my school board member, Cynthia Falls, for lunch on Feb 8, 2019, a cold winter day. We got to talk about some of my concerns. Plus, I got a sense from her as to what she has been working on and how we might be able to proceed. 

Of course, she asked for a written summary, and I sent it to her a week or so later, on Feb 17, 2019. 

Four girl relay Qualifiers for WPIAL Meet, first girls relay in Obama School History

Every year for a decade while I was coaching PPS Schenley and the Obama swimming team a swimmer or more went to the state meet. This year I am not there, and I doubt if a swimmer even made it to the DISTRICT meet. Correct me if I am wrong! Meet entry deadline looms large.

Memo from Mark Rauterkus, Swim, SKWIM & Water Polo Coach


With the past ten years of coaching at PPS, I always delivered great results with my programs, but sadly, the district slogan, “Expect Great Things,” is far from the truth when it comes to the treatment of swim programs and pools within PPS.

The PPS board and superintendent, Dr. Hamlet, can sustain swimming's evaporation into nothingness and continue to squander the swim-pool resources throughout the district. Or, together, we can turn the tide and make the existing swim pools inspiring learning laboratories for discovering individual and group excellence.

The hope is to give witness, grow political will and provide district leadership with a vision to enable, dynamic, pool usage that benefits students and community.

These statements concerning PPS swim pools and programs are organized in four parts:

1) Legacy,

2) Recent past,

3) Present, and

4) Future.

  • Legacy
  • Recent Past
  • Present
  • Future

When I met PPS's Athletic Director, Mike Gavlik, he told me, “Swimming is dying in the city.”

“No. Swimming within PPS was dying because PPS administrators were killing it,” I said.

Swimming in-and-around the city was doing better than ever. Ten years ago, USA Swimming was riding a wave of increased participation thanks in part to Michael Phelps. Locally, Oakland Catholic's super-star, Leah Smith, became an Olympic Champion.

We got Schenley's varsity team into the WPIAL, and the Spartans went undefeated to win a WPIAL Class AA Section Title, the first for any sports team from PPS. Our 27-day Swim & Water Polo program as part of Summer Dreams operated out of five sites and grew to 200+ kids. Incredible results, but a hard slog with hit-and-miss support.

Coach Mark Rauterkus:
  • Began swim team with PPS Phillips. Sons swam at Phillips, Frick, Schenley, Obama.
  • Schenley HS got city team title and record breakers.
  • Served on Mark Roosevelt era Athletic Reform Task Force.
  • Authored position paper to Dr. Lane and PPS Board, Fewer Sports Alternatives. Avoided cuts
  • First city team in any sport to win a WPIAL section, Obama Boys Varsity Swim Teams
  • Coached first city athlete in any sport to get WPIAL gold medal and set a WPIAL record
  • Offered 8 years of support with Summer Dreamers with Swim & Water Polo
  • Teaches / trains 200+ city kids in swimming each year
  • Sent PPS student-athletes to PIAA swim championships every season for 9 years
  • Had a nice email update that read, in large part:

    Hello! How are you? I did not want you to think I am ignoring your issues and not moving forward, but I am absolutely swamped!! Negotiations, at several levels, are not moving as I hoped. (I am the Chairperson of this Committee) This is a high priority on my calendar along with the everyday “stuff” of the Board. Looking at my calendar I have set up March 11th to review your email and decide how I think we should move forward. Your issues really matter to me so I refuse to give a half way done job. I hope you understand. Thank you for your patience.

    My quick reply:

    Great. No rush. I am here for the long haul.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Subscribe to our newsletter now!