Voorhees High School Wrestling

At a testimonial in his honor in 1985, the program stated, “Al embodies the virtues of his generation and the qualities that have made America great.”  Al Dittmann’s resume was already as impressive as his stature when he relocated to his Califon farm in 1969.  Even as a child, Al had brushes with greatness, as he was an errand boy for J.P. Morgan.  He was a decorated three-sport varsity athlete for Roselle High School, where he became a state champion in the discus.  Al continued his impressive athletic career at Albright College where his classmates called him, “the greatest man in the school.”   He competed in football and track.  The track and field most valuable athlete award at Albright was eventually named in his honor and he was inducted as a charter member into the school’s athletic hall of fame.  After graduating, he served as a science teacher and coach at Somerville High School before joining the Navy and defending our country as a ship commander in the South Pacific during the Second World War.  Al continued to give back to Albright throughout his life; a full fifty years after he graduated, Albright’s Varsity Club declared, “No college has ever had a more loyal and supportive alumnus than Al Dittmann.”  However, despite all his accolades, what most people at Voorhees will remember were the last fifteen years of “Big Al’s” life that he dedicated to a brand new high school.

In retirement, Al decided to take a job as a substitute teacher at the newly-constructed high school just a few miles down the road from his farm.  Additionally, he drove a bus for many of the athletic teams, and he has since been regarded as the most famous bus driver in the history of Voorhees Athletics.  However, it was not the work he was paid to do that made Al Dittmann a valued member of the Voorhees community.  Though he was particular to football and wrestling, Al supported all the sports at Voorhees; he could often be seen at the various competitions on campus, and when he drove a team to an away competition, he always supported the Voorhees girls and boys.  In addition to being a familiar face in the crowd, Al got to know and ended up befriending many of the Voorhees coaches.  He would often chat with them and invite them to his farm, especially when he threw his famous “barn parties.”

Al Dittmann was always there to provide encouraging words to individuals and teams going through rough moments.  He famously addressed the wrestling team after a tough loss in their first ever varsity match. When the bus he was driving arrived back to Voorhees, Al, unprompted, stood up and addressed the entire team.  He said Voorhees will have “its day in the sun”; which of course, they most certainly did.

Al Dittmann was a larger-than-life figure for Voorhees in the infancy of the school.  While owning no official leadership title, Al served as a surrogate parent, loyal friend, and source of wisdom for many of the young coaches at Voorhees.  Though the first thing many think of when they reminisce about Al Dittmann is the enormous size of his hands, eventually, all those who knew him refer to the size of his heart.  The Voorhees community will never forget the compassion and efforts of “Big Al.”