SIDNEY — Another orienteering season ended on a high note for Holy Angels fifth-grader John Ratermann and his sister, Sophie, a sophomore at Lehman Catholic High School.
The two students recently participated in the 16-week, 14-event Tri State Regional Orienteering League (TROL) competition that took place throughout Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Competing in eight of the 14 events, John and Sophie both took first place in their age groups. In addition to the league championships, Sophie added a trio of bronze medals, and John won three Gold medals at the 2018 National Orienteering Championships. The National Orienteering Championships were recently held over three days in “the state up north,” said their father Joe Ratermann.
More recently, Sophie earned a Gold place medal at a three day National Ranking event at Carter Caves State Park, Kentucky. Additionally, John is ranked first in the United States; and, Sophie is currently placed sixth among all high school varsity females nationally. Their father introduced John and Sophie to the sport. Despite the introduction, however, he is now an embarrassment to his champion son and daughter, as he has not won a national event in almost 20 years. He only finished third in the recent Tri-State competition, and is currently unranked nationally.
What is orienteering? Imagine yourself being dropped into the unknown wilderness. You are equipped with only with a compass and a highly detailed map of the terrain — one that you have never seen before. Instead of traveling through the wilderness like Daniel Boone searching for food and avoiding hostiles, orienteerers are involved in a competitive form of land navigation. The object of orienteering is to locate a series of points shown on the map. The map can be a national or local park, a scout camp or a school campus.
In an orienteering race, the object is to navigate through the points faster than all other competitors. Individual starts, however, are staggered to increase individual effort. Child/parent or two child teams are encouraged during the first couple of events to experience a positive learning experience along with time outside with your family.
John was first introduced to orienteering while he ran in his diapers on a snowy June day at Mount Rainer, Washington. While John is currently ranked number one in the United States, his greater love is for soccer. John has been able to take advantage of Shelby County’s numerous soccer programs: he is currently competing for Ian Grieve’s undefeated U13 Viper team in the Shelby County Recreation League and is enjoying Josh Danklefsen’s coaching as a member of the Ohio Extreme South team.
Sophie was first introduced to orienteering as a six-month-old child when her father carried her through the Sonora Desert in Arizona. After two hours of navigating sandy hills, rocks, and Saguaro cacti, Sophie, sound asleep, logged her first victory. Sophie enjoys attending Lehman and recently participated in the school play: “Into the Woods.” While Sophie is currently a high school student, she is planning on studying Marine Biology upon graduation. Additionally, last year after serving as a squad leader at last summer’s Texas’ Sid Richardson Ranch JROTC camp, Sophie is planning on attending the camp again this summer and expand on her previous leadership position and become a platoon commander. Later in the summer, in July, she is expected to attend a one-week summer orienteering camp in Quebec, Canada, and compete at the Canadian National Championships.
Their parents, Ivana Ratermann, of Sidney, and Joe Ratermann, also of Sidney, credit much of John and Sophie’s current success to the numerous early childhood gymnastics and swimming classes taught by the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA excellent instructors. While the brother sister duo continue with soccer and school musicals, their parents insist that John and Sophie will remain committed to orienteering whenever there is an open spot in the schedule. They believe that orienteering also develops other specific life-long skills. In addition to the physical fitness aspects, orienteering develops math, science, art and geography skills. Finally, throughout competitions and classes, students develop their self-confidence, critical-thinking, decision making and three dimensional visualization skills.
The Ratermann pair also have plans to participate in the Cincinnati six-event summer series. For more information on the series, visit https://www.ocin.org/events.php.
To begin an adventure through parks and forests, information about Orienteering camps, local orienteering meets, or orienteering generally, visit http://www.ocin.org.