OV’s Pattie Candon: Mentor, teacher, coach retiring

BRANDON — Band-Aids, bug spray, pencils, softball videos, Gatorade, nail polish remover — the shelves and walls of an office lend a telling glimpse of the person who occupies it. And, after 38 years, Otter Valley physical education teacher Pattie Candon’s office is no exception.
The June 11 OVUHS graduation marked the end of Candon’s career at the Brandon school, but it was more than that. The longtime softball coach, gym teacher and graduation coordinator is retiring, yes, but she is also leaving the school she graduated from in 1972.
Candon, 61, has spent most of her life at Otter Valley Union High School, and The Brandon Reporter caught up with her in that office recently to talk about her career and life after OV.
“It will hit me at some point,” she said. “And when it does, it will be a hard hit … that I’m not going back.” 
Candon, 61, is a Pittsford native and one of six children. Her brothers Jim and Matt live in Rutland and Pittsford, respectively, and her sister Anne is relocating to South Carolina from Barre. Her sister Maggie lives in New Orleans. Her brother Willy died in 2013.
Candon is a doting aunt and great-aunt to her 18-month-old great-niece, Stella, and three-year-old great-nephew, Jobin. She also has two other great-nephews in North Carolina.
Candon attended Castleton State College, now Castleton University, and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. She began working full-time at OV in 1983 after substituting for a few years.
In addition to her family, Candon has another passion: the OV softball program. In March, Candon was inducted into the Vermont Principals’ Association Hall of Fame. She has coached softball at OV for 30 years, since 1986, and also officiated field hockey games beginning 10 years before that. Candon was honored not only for her softball teams’ four Division II championships, more than 300 wins, and a dozen Marble Valley league titles, but also because she “has been one of the top award-winning field hockey umpires starting in 1976” and “has donated her time frequently to promote interscholastic sports when her teams are not playing.” 
In 2007, Candon was inducted into the Castleton State University Hall of Fame. She has coached Vermont’s Twin-State softball team and helped found the Vermont State Softball Coaches’ Association and served as its vice president and secretary. She received the field hockey coaches’ Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and the Outstanding Official Award in 2012.
“Three-hundred-thirty wins and 219 losses,” she said matter-of-factly, “and so many memories.”
The OV softball team won back-to-back D-II state titles in 1993 and 1994, and again in 2009 and 2014. Candon lists the 1994 title as one of the proudest moments of her career.
“That was a very special year because it was the year my Dad died,” she said, her voice tightening, “and he would have loved that.”
A year ago, OV’s softball field was named in Candon’s honor. But she’s not quite ready to give up the softball mantle at the school. Candon confirmed that although she is retiring from teaching, she will be back next spring to coach at least one more year of OV girls’ softball.
Eventually, though, Candon said she will have to take a leave from coaching to have double knee replacement. She said she will no longer referee field hockey games.
“I’m not doing as much as I used to,” she said.
When Candon was asked what she would miss most, she said she would miss her colleagues at OV, and the day-to-day friendships she has forged at the school. And especially the kids, both on the field and in the hallways and classrooms of OV.
“Parents would ask their kids why they were giving this teacher a hard time and not Ms. Candon, and they say, ‘Because Ms. Candon treats me with respect,’” Candon recalled. “You show the kids respect and they are going to respect you back, and that’s the way it goes.”
That said, Candon admits it hasn’t always been easy.
“There have been some tough nuts and some sweethearts, you know how it is,” she said.
Candon said she has no plans to leave Pittsford after retirement, but she has every intention of traveling. In addition to family in the Carolinas and New Orleans, Candon also has friends in Virginia and Atlanta.
“And if I really want to bug out of town, I have friends in Scotland,” she said with a laugh. “We live in a great part of the country. Yeah, it gets hot, but it goes away. Yeah, we get snow, but it goes away. And we don’t get the wildfires, tornadoes and earthquakes.”
As the school year wound down, Candon said she heard from many students who wanted her to stay. But suffice it to say that she won’t be a stranger around OV come next spring. Be it the sport or the students, a big piece of Candon’s heart will always be at Otter Valley.
“People ask me if I have any kids,” she said smiling, “and I say ‘Yeah, I have 600 of them.’”

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