Miranda Rigg

Senior Miranda Rigg played ice hockey throughout her childhood before starting field hockey.

JMU field hockey’s redshirt senior forward/midfielder Miranda Rigg has returned to form, recording six goals, four assists and 16 points in 14 games after missing all of last season.

But Rigg’s career didn’t start on the turf. Throughout her life, ice hockey has always been a constant.

“When I was five or six years old, I pretty much went to a PTA school night just for skating,” Rigg said. “One time, we just hung out after and watched people playing roller hockey, actually. I told my parents that I wanted to do that, and they signed me up for a club league, and then from there, I played on a travel roller hockey team, and then that team asked me to play ice hockey, and [I] just kind of played since then.”

Rigg said the transition to the ice wasn’t easy, and neither was learning how to skate. She said it was a learning experience, but she grew to love it. The sport helped her improve her skating, and she loved its competitiveness. While she’s been on the ice throughout her life, her experience with field hockey hasn’t been as long. Rigg started the sport in high school after a suggestion from a family friend.

“When I was going into ninth grade, [a family friend] said I should just try out field hockey and gave me a stick,” Rigg said. “I pretty much showed up to tryouts and was like, ‘How do you hit the ball?’ and then made the high school team, and then from there, my high school coaches ended up my club coaches, so they really helped me grow as a player.”

The decision to attempt field hockey was because of her willingness to take new opportunities. When she was young, she played different types of sports and wanted to try out field hockey. While she was nervous at first, Rigg’s ice hockey skills helped her get used to playing field hockey and acclimated her to the game’s rules. Her skills helped her to become a key contributor for JMU.

“She’s a natural athlete,” JMU head coach Christy Morgan said. “She understands [sports], so when she stepped on the field, you can see that there’s a feel that she had for the game. You don’t see that often. We’ve been using that, and I think not only is she a natural athlete, she’s a smart athlete, so she can pick things up really quickly.”  

So far in her career at JMU, the Fredericksburg, Virginia, product has accumulated 44 goals, 11 assists and 99 points in 76 games. Ever since entering the program as a freshman, Rigg has grown into a dynamic player for the Dukes, something redshirt senior defender Megan Guzzardi has seen since day one.

“She definitely had amazing scoring skills,” redshirt senior defender Megan Guzzardi said. “But, I think she’s become a key asset to the team, distributing through the midfield and playing awesome defense, and she brings the team energy, especially on the field. She has grown in her aspect to lead and in her aspect to bring energy to the team and really put the ball in the back of the goal. Every time she gets the ball, or we need to score, she’s the one to do it.”

In addition to the stickhandling and shooting skills she possesses from ice hockey, her speed is another reason she’s had success on the turf. She won a fastest skater competition, and that speed has translated to the field with her ability to change speeds and outrun defenders while donning the purple and gold.

While Rigg has been on the field, she’s been a reliable force for the Dukes, providing a spark whenever it’s needed. As Rigg’s career at JMU comes to a close, Morgan has seen the change in her as she’s improved year after year.

“Every year she’s just grown and grown, and now she’s been invited to the U.S. Trials,” Morgan said. “We’re happy she’s here with us now. This extra year has benefited her because she’s able to grow her game even more, having another year to mature as a hockey player, as a field hockey player. But she’s playing some of her best hockey right now.”

Contact Jason Clampitt at clampijt@dukes.jmu.edu. For more field hockey coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.