Tammy Blackwood age 54, of Rostraver Township, Pennsylvania. formerly of North Huntingdon Township, Pennsylvania, passed away peacefully with family by her bedside on December 26, 2018. She was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania on July 9, 1964 one of two children of Donald F. and Cecilia (Forgie) Ditter.
Tammy was a 1982 graduate of Norwin High School, where she was a key part of the 1982 Norwin Girls Swimming PIAA State Championship team. That team was inducted into the Norwin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013, followed 2 years later by Tammy’s individual induction for her years as a Norwin swimmer.
Tammy then went to the University of Arkansas on a swimming scholarship, where she became the first ever Lady Razorback to win an individual event at a Southwest Conference Championship meet when she won the 50 meter butterfly in 1984. That also resulted in her being an Olympic qualifier, and qualified her for the U.S. National Championships. She also was a part of a group of girls that together set an American record in open water swimming.
Later that year, she transferred to Slippery Rock University, where she began playing water polo. This eventually led to her 2 years as a part of the U.S. Women’s National Water Polo team, where she spent her summers at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She graduated Slippery Rock in 1987, and was soon hired as a Swimming & Phys Ed teacher at Elizabeth Forward High School, where she would end up teaching for 31 years. She also took over as the Head Coach of the EF Boys & Girls Swimming & Diving teams, and her excellence as a swimmer quickly translated into excellence as a coach. During her 20 years as the EF coach, she compiled over 400 wins, her boys & girls teams won a combined total of 26 WPIAL Section titles, and her boys team captured 4 straight WPIAL titles from 1993-1996, with the 1995 team going on to place 2nd at the PIAA State Championships. In all, she had a total of 25 swimmers that won individual WPIAL titles, and 2 that were also PIAA State champions.
In 2010 and 2011, she was a top 60 finalist for the Pennsylvania Teacher Excellence Foundation Award, and in 2011, she was awarded the Elizabeth Forward Teacher Award. In 2013, she was inducted into the Elizabeth Forward Alumni & Friends Hall of Fame as an Education Recognition Awardee for her positive contributions to EF and its students. She also spent 8 years as the Student Assistance Coordinator.
But her biggest contribution (and love) may have been the hugely successful and popular Partners P.E. program at EF, which helped to integrate students with physical and/or developmental disabilities in with the mainstream student body in many aspects of school life. She was responsible for the initial development of the program beginning in 2009, and continued to help run it until she stepped away from teaching earlier this year. Many, many students applied each year to be included in the program, but only a select few could be accepted, making participation in the program a coveted reward for those who were chosen. But as anyone who was a part of it can attest to, it was often a life changing experience, and a big reason for that was because of what Tammy did with the program over the years.
Tammy was preceded in death by her mother and is survived by her husband, John Blackwood; her father, Donald of North Huntingdon; her brother, Donnie (Dana) Ditter of Trafford, Pennsylvania; nephew, Kolin and niece Megan Ditter; a special aunt, Anita Minnix of Richmond, Virginia and many other aunts, uncles and special friends who prayed for her during her illness.
Friends will be received on Saturday, December 29, 2018 from 5 – 8 pm and Sunday, December 30, 2018 from 1 – 4 and 6 – 8 pm in the Stephen D. Slater Funeral Home, 1701 Route 51, Jefferson Hills, Pennsylvania (412-384-0350). Tammy’s funeral service will be held on Monday, December 31, 2018 at 11am in the Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers her family suggests donations to the Elizabeth Forward High School Partners P.E. Program % Elizabeth Forward High School 1000 Weigles Hill Road, Elizabeth, Pennsylvania 15037. Visit www.stephendslater.com for more information & condolences.