Rigsby Making The Most Of A Golden Opportunity

By: 
Trish Bradle

 

One minute Alex Rigsby was sitting on the end of the bench cheering on her teammates during another gold-medal battle with Canada at the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championship and the next she was thrust into the middle of the action.

Such is the life of a backup goaltender.

“I was surprised to go in, but I was definitely prepared,” recalls Rigsby, who relieved starting goaltender Jessie Vetter midway through the second period. “Weird things can happen, injuries can happen, you always have to be ready for it.”

Alex Rigsby #33

Position: Goalie
Catches:
Left
Height:
5-foot-7
Weight:
155 pounds
Birth Date:
Jan. 3, 1992
Hometown:

Delafield, Wis.
College Hockey:
University of Wisconsin
USA Hockey History:
A two-time member of the U.S. Women’s National Team (2013 and 2015), and a two-time member of the U.S. Women’s National Under-18 Team (2009 and 2010). Also played in two Four Nations Cups (2012 and 2014) and was a member of the 2012 U.S. Under-22 Select Team.

While she may have lacked the experience in high-pressure international competition, Rigsby believes that her competitiveness helped earn the coaches’ confidence, a trait that has made the 23-year-old netminder a rising star in the U.S. Women’s National Team program.

“Every time I practice I’m competing to make it difficult for the other girls to score,” she says. “Everyone is pushing each other on Team USA.”

They need to if they want to keep up with their neighbors to the north.

No sooner did Rigsby step between the pipes than Canada snuck the equalizer past her to knot the game at 5-5. Some might think that would ruin her confidence, but she said it actually calmed her down.

“It was the worst thing that could happen and then it was done and over with,” says Rigsby, who stopped 13 of the next 14 shots in leading the U.S. to its fifth gold medal in the past six tournaments.

Rigsby says that chemistry plays a big part in the team’s success. And nowhere is that more evident than among the team’s goaltenders. She feels fortunate to be roommates with Molly Schaus, and never missed an opportunity to talk, listen and learn from the veteran goalie who announced her retirement on Aug. 10.

“She really helped guide me when we were at tournaments,” Rigsby says. “Then Jessie Vetter came along and I got to skate with her for half the year. She’s such a good goalie partner.”

Not having the opportunity to play with girls growing up in Delafield, Wis., Rigsby attributes part of her development to playing with the boys.

“Being a competitive goalie, I can definitely say that comes from playing with the guys,” says Rigsby, pointing out that the shots are harder and the releases are quicker. “They’re going to challenge you.”

Rigsby proved that she was up for the challenge when she was the first female drafted in the United States Hockey League, a move that caught her by surprise.

Steve Poapst, the head coach of the Chicago Steel at the time, noticed Rigsby on the far end of the ice during a game. Once she switched ends Poapst was heard saying “who’s that guy with the long hair.”

“All of a sudden I was getting all these calls and texts,” she says. “Then one of my teammates got ahold of me and said ‘Congratulations, I can’t believe it.’ It was really cool.”

Playing with the guys wasn’t always easy. Her advice: “Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t do something.” It’s a philosophy that she follows as she works toward her ultimate goal of competing in the Olympics.

 “I’m training to be an Olympian,” Rigsby says. “But right now, I’m controlling the controllable.”

 


 

  Youth Star

  Zachery Sinople
  Age: 12
  Glenville, Ill.

  While Zachery Sinople loves to play hockey, it wasn’t the first skill he acquired.

From an early age, Zachery learned to play the violin, and by the age of 3 he was playing in the age-diverse orchestra “The Strings of the Valley.” The orchestra performs monthly concerts at the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen and the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, along with two local nursing homes.

“I like playing songs and playing for people,” the 11-year-old said about performing for veterans and seniors.

Shortly after taking up the violin, Zachery began playing hockey. He is now the center for the Wilmette Braves Peewee gold team. Just like an orchestra, he knows it’s not just about him on the ice, although he does enjoy “scoring goals.”

“I like to play as part of a team,” he said.

Sinople attended the Lake Forest Academy hockey school this summer in hopes to improve on his skills and “make the gold team, maybe even AAA.”

 

Issue: 
2015-09

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