Longtime Robert Morris Colonials assistant women’s hockey coach Logan Bittle was named the first head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins Elite under-19 prep girls team as well as the club’s under-16 squad, the team announced on Wednesday.
Bittle has been associated with the Robert Morris program in several ways since the early 2000s. A member of the Robert Morris men’s hockey team in its inaugural year, Bittle played four seasons under Derek Schooley before a brief pro career. He returned to the women’s hockey side of RMU Island Sports Center to join Nate Handrahan’s leadership team in 2009-10. Logan was retained when Paul Colontino succeeded Handrahan in 2011, and subsequently elevated from assistant to associate head coach in 2015. He will become a head coach for the first time with Pens Elite.
“The opportunity to continue to help grow and build the women’s game in Pittsburgh is something I am very passionate about,” Bittle said to Pittsburgh Hockey Digest. “This is a wonderful opportunity to do just that.“
The program amassed three conference titles and two NCAA appearances in Bittle’s tenure and he watched over a dozen future professional players develop, so leaving Robert Morris wasn’t an easy decision.
“My time at RMU is so special to me and has blessed me in so many ways,” he said. “I am so grateful for my time there both as a coach and a player. The players, coaches and administrators and support staff are truly a family. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone that has been a part of my time at Robert Morris.”
Robert Morris and the Penguins Elite have had a longtime relationship, starting with the Little Sister-Big Sister program where each team has a youth player paired up with a collegiate player. The program was put on pause due to COVID-19 this past season.
Former RMU players Ashley Vesci, Kirsten Welsh and Cobina Walkland have coached with Elite in the past and the Colonials have found talent in the Elite program, such as 2021 senior Anjelica Diffendal, current rookie Ellie Marcovsky and future player Serena Slusarcyk.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had in my hockey career because of his commitment to the team as a whole and his passion for the game,” Welsh attests. “He knows how to push players to the next level by holding them to a high standard. He has great familiarity with the local hockey community, and the Pens organization is lucky to get such an amazing person to head coach the u19 and u16 girls teams.”
Pens Elite alumni Diffendal, Marcovsky, Kaitlyn O’Donohoe (Colgate), and Chalya Edwards (Wisconsin) all qualified for the NCAA Tournament this season.
“I think RMU and the Pens Elite have a great relationship,” Bittle said. “With the handful of players we’ve had currently have and have coming in, there has always been a good partnership there. I will continue those relationships. Obviously having the ability for a girl to grow up her whole life and play here and then go on to college at RMU is certainly something special for the girls that would want that.”