Linda Lee — My personal bridge blog

A remarkable story about a remarkable woman

Yesterday we announced the ABTA MPP Teacher of the Year. It was an incredible afternoon. Many of the teacher finalists attended the American Bridge Teacher Association Convention and for the award announcement many brought students who sat in rows with special name tags ready to provide encouragement for their teacher. Barbara Seagram had each finalist stand up and she read their story. Then she asked for the “envelope please!” (She told me that she had always wanted to say that.) The winner was announced and it was Tina Radding. Tina couldn’t believe it. She was speechless and in tears and shaking. She came up to the stage and could hardly hold the envelope with the prize money and her beautiful trophy while many people took pictures of her. When asked to say a few words after a few minutes to compose herself she told us that she didn’t even know she had been nominated for a long time. Her students just did it. She couldn’t believe that she had won. Let me tell you about Tina first and then come back to her speech.

Tina teaches in Charleston, South Carolina and I admit I will never drive by there again without thinking of her. She is a tiny wisp of a woman with enormous energy and as her students put it she has an enormous passion for the game and for all of them. She volunteered to teach classes to raise money to fix up the local Bridge Center so they now have bridge pads, a new sound system and so on. As a result of all of her efforts the games at the bridge center have really grown.

She is a great motivator because her students know she cares about them. She gets to know everyone personally. She is interested in their lives as well as their bridge game. She is an innovative teacher. She dresses up in all sorts of costumes to illustrate her lessons. My favorite is the princess costume she uses to illustrate that you should “wait on the princess who has the big 2 club bid”.

She gets the players going to tournaments, forms teams (and even makes dinner reservations), she organizes pro-am games and other events. At the tournament the students are in and out of her room as she helps them in every way they need and then they all eat together since they all want to be with Tina.

She will come in early to help a student out if they miss a lesson or otherwise need help and in every way she has transformed the bridge community.

Tina’s husband died recently in a plane crash. He volunteered to fly mercy air ambulance trips and also taught young people to fly.

Now back to Tina’s speech.

She told us that her husband was always interested in what she did even though he didn’t play bridge. He wanted to know everything that happened that day. When he died she knew that she should continue to teach and that would be alright. She didn’t want to let her students down. Bridge is everything to Tina and the bridge world is glad that she feels so very passionately about the game.

Then her students came on stage to congratulate her and people took pictures of all of them. And I know that I was not the only one in that room who was overcome with emotion.

I talked to some of the other finalists and their students. They were understandably disappointed although one of them had said it had been a wonderful ride. But everyone thought Tina was a wonderful winner.

Tina with some of her students

Tina in the yellow blouse with some of her students


Judy Kay-WolffJuly 22nd, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Terrific reporting, Linda!

What an inspirational account of a bridge teacher, her lovely demeanor, outstanding approach and interesting, though recently sad, background. Many people profess to be teachers, but Tina seems to be the real McCoy — not in it for the money — but for the beauty of the game and the genuine pleasure and satisfaction she derives from her close personal relationships with her students.

Her persona seems to reach above and beyond.

Dave Memphis MOJOJuly 23rd, 2010 at 8:16 am

Great story, great photo.

“He wanted to know everything that happened that day.”

Most women would kill for a husband like this.

Linda LeeJuly 23rd, 2010 at 10:28 am

I had a chance to talk to Tina on the boat cruise last night, the final banquet for this years ABTA meeting. Tina is a wonderful lady and she plans to come to next years ABTA in Toronto. I think they plan to ask her to come as a speaker and share her fascinating ideas about teaching. I was so happy that I had a chance to meet this wonderful lady and if I ever have a chance Tina has invited me to drop in on one of her classes (and to stay at her home!) and I would love to see her in action. There are some special people in this world and she is one of them.

KathyJuly 23rd, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Your story is right on!

As you reported, Tina truly inspires her students. She has brought in hundreds of new members to the ACBL. She celebrates every student’s achievement and she recognizes every change of rank . The student who earns 5 master points and becomes a Junior Master gets a medal and is honored at Tina’s party with as much pomp and circumstance as a new Life Master.

You were right to describe her as a remarkable woman. Those of us who are privileged to be one of her students know how really remarkable she is and we are so lucky to have her.

Diane BennettJuly 23rd, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Tina is indeed special! My partner (Kathy Abrams-who was the driving force in nominating Tina) & I started taking weekly lessons from Tina 4+ years ago. Her passion for the game is infectious. This award confirms what her students have always known-Tina is the BEST!

Linda, I hope you do come to one of her classes & you will see that first- hand.

Ann PriestJuly 23rd, 2010 at 10:29 pm

I have been telling my friends and family for years about my incredible luck in having such a wonderful teacher. She has changed the face of Charleston bridge, touched the hearts and minds of dozens of students, and helped to create a vibrant and caring bridge community. Tina, we are so proud of you!

Steve DonaldsonJuly 24th, 2010 at 6:06 am

I am so proud of Tina! We have not played as partners, team-mates, nor has she officially instructed me in years now, but I will remember her as one of my best bridge teachers, partners, and hope to have those opportunities to learn more from her in the future. Every time I see her she says, “you can be on my team anytime”, which always makes a former student, team-mate, and partner feel special. She has quite a touch. Tina is a natural teacher, truly self-less, and deserving of the honor she earned. However, most of all I call her friend, and I am so happy she won, and I know Peter is too.

Anne TokarczykJuly 25th, 2010 at 11:20 am

Tina is truly deserving of this wonderful award as she sincerely cares that one learns the game of bridge well. Every small step forward is a celebration for her! She also has the ability of making one feel that her total focus is on a student’s accomplishment; whereas she is THE Pied Piper with a long list of adoring students all feeling she belongs to them. Hence, the huge growth in the Charleston bridge community. Who could not remember who the “Captain” of the hand is with 98 pounds of energy circiling the room in a Captain’s hat!

LindaJuly 28th, 2010 at 8:07 am

The wonderful comments from her students and friends show just how much she does deserve the award. I am sure she is proud of all of you too.

Cam FrenchJuly 29th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Very touching Linda, well done.

I really enjoy we we celebrate those bridge teachers who welcome new players into the game.

To Tina, Audrey, Barb and all of our bridge teachers, congratulations for the wonderful work you do.


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