Ritchie 'rocks the house'

"When Central Kitsap High School junior Stephen Ritchie went to the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) national championships in Louisville, Ky. three weeks ago, he was just looking to rock the house.When you get to that level, you think you have no chance, Ritchie said. So all you want to do is have fun.Ritchie rocked the house enough to walk away with the national championship, beating 160 other marketing students from all over the nation and earning a $1,000 scholarship from JC Penny.Look at my face, said Ritchie, laughing while examining a picture his DECA advisor took when his title was announced. I was a little surprised.Ritchie won the award after receiving high scores on everything from customer service to retail return polices. The competition was Ritchie's first on the national level and he beat out returning students who had placed in the previous national championship.DECA is very competitive, Ritchie said. I'm sure I won by only three points, if that.With a businessman as a father, Ritchie said he has always wanted to be in business; not for the money as much as the opportunity to be in on an aspect of society that everyone from doctors to teachers deals with.Money is not the motivation, Ritchie said. Business is just the transportation device. I never turn down a challenge.Sharing in Ritchie's hour of power is Tim Mahaney, DECA advisor and marketing instructor at Central Kitsap High. Mahaney said Ritchie is a reflection of the success someone can achieve with DECA and the possibilities students should look out for. They laugh at me now, but someday they could be my boss, Mahaney said. If I do my job, that's the way it will be.The drive to succeed has Ritchie competing in other activities. Besides business, there are triathlons and debate competitions that he wants to experience the same amount of success in. Although Ritchie has gone all the way for DECA, he still plans to stay with the club and try other aspects of business and marketing.I plan to go back next year and defend my title, Ritchie said. Sorting out colleges and future business options are focuses for Ritchie now. One day he hopes to have unlimited resources to succeed in just about everything.I want to go anywhere and do anything, practically, Ritchie said. I would like to be a businessman at-large.With such high aspirations, it can be easy to dismiss him as just another aspiring business prodigy with dreams of wealth; but Ritchie said he hopes his win in Louisville will show more about not giving up on personal drive as opposed to the drive for affluenceI've known a lot of people who are very talented and could have won the title just as easy, but they take the pessimistic route, Ritchie said. It's never impossible until you give up."

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