Graduate defender Kara McClure described former teammate, JMU field hockey forward/midfielder Miranda Rigg (2015-19) as “resilient, hardworking and passionate.” This year, Rigg takes on all of the above in a new role, this time off the pitch.
Rigg is replacing the mouth guard with the whistle as Longwood’s new head coach. She replaces former Lancers head coach Iain Byers, who was the school’s most successful field hockey head coach.
“At the end of the day, I’m here to help them succeed on the pitch or off it as people.” Rigg said in a Sept. 8 email to The Breeze.
Rigg is the youngest head coach in Longwood history at 25 and was a student assistant coach at JMU.
A former ice hockey player, Rigg brings a unique perspective to Longwood. JMU field hockey head coach Christy Morgan said Rigg’s on-ice experience has given her a better understanding of the speed of play and execution needed in both.
“She could anticipate very well,” Morgan said. “She really feels the game and knows the right move to clear a defender.”
Rigg arrives in Longwood after assisting La Salle while simultaneously coaching at Mainline Mayhem Field Hockey Club. She joined Longwood in the spring as an assistant before being promoted.
Rigg was a member of the United States Women’s National Field Hockey Team for the 2020-21 season. The former forward/midfielder was named to the CAA All-Rookie Team at JMU, scored the most points for the team in her second year (32) and was named twice in the first All-CAA team. She ranks eighth all-time in goals scored (45) and seventh all-time in career points (101).
“I loved playing for JMU,” Rigg said in a Sept. 8 email to The Breeze. in life now… Just being a student-athlete at JMU has prepared me to know all the ins and outs of what my players go through day to day.
McClure said Rigg has brought a clear level of discipline to her game, and she expects her to bring the same discipline as a head coach. She added that Rigg has always strived to be the hardest-working player on the pitch.
“[Rigg] was such an inspiration when it came to watching her perform,” McClure said. “She motivated all of us to be like her, and she was just a huge role model for the team.”
Rigg and McClure are former “responsibility partners,” meaning the two were often tasked with supporting each other. At the end of the 2019 season, McClure said, they wrote letters to each other about what makes someone special. McClure, a sophomore when Rigg was a senior at JMU, said she always kept her letters handy and even read them again whenever she felt down.
When Rigg was at JMU, McClure said it was his compassion that stood out.
“She cared about this team more than anything in this whole world,” McClure said.
Rigg’s new position comes with new challenges and new players to put in front of her. But she said she was ready to take them on – not only will she try to develop good field hockey players, she said, but she is also looking forward to building character off the field.
While playing for JMU, Rigg brought a ‘calm manner about him’, said Morgan – someone who was a calm and confident presence in the heat of competition. Morgan described Rigg as “just a person who gets things done”.
“You add skill and you add confidence and you add the ability to teach the game,” Morgan said, “and that makes for a really, really effective coach.”
Rigg has a “stern voice”, Morgan said, and her teammates respected her – she was one of those players who led by example.
“People were listening when [Rigg] spoke,” Morgan said. “She could walk the walk and talk the talk.”
McClure said she felt the lasting impact Rigg had left on her — before she was his teammate, McClure said, she might have been more scared or less confident doing tasks. Now, McClure said she feels like she can “take on any task” and accomplish anything.
“[Rigg’s] confident in her ability to be strong enough and resourceful enough to achieve everything she doesn’t know,” Morgan said. for her.”
Rigg continues to coach a team with a winning record in its past three seasons and is looking to do the same this year.
“I think the biggest lesson she can teach us all is to go for it,” Morgan said. “If you want something badly enough, you do the work. You tap into the resources you have and you succeed.