Rigby brings family coaching tradition to CR wrestling

CAMDEN — You don’t have to look very hard to find a Rigby in the Caesar Rodney High wrestling history books.

It seems like there’s always been one of them on the mats for the Riders.Wrestling coach Dan Rigby

“It feels like I had 700 family members wrestle at Caesar Rodney,” joked Dan Rigby. “I had all my uncles, and first cousins and second cousins and third cousins and brothers. We’ve all been through the program there.”

So there’s definitely a sense of Rigby coming back home after he was hired as CR’s new wrestling head coach on Tuesday night.

The 27-year-old Rigby, a 2005 Caesar Rodney grad, spent the last five years coaching at Milford. He led the Buccaneers to back-to-back state championships in Division II.

The Rigbys also have a proud tradition of coaching wrestling. Dan’s uncle Roy also won a pair of state championships at Milford while his uncle Harry led Dover to several Henlopen Conference crowns.

Rigby admits that trying to live up the family name made him a little uncomfortable at first when he was hired at Milford. He was only 23 at the time.

“Some of that was appealing but some of it was a little bit nerve-wracking,” said Rigby. “I was able at Milford to kind of do my own thing and create my own little bit of legacy down there. Sometimes the shadow of that name is a little tough.

“But it’s exciting because my family’s still up there and they all come out and support. They’re all Riders at heart, which is good.”

Of course, leaving Milford isn’t easy for Rigby. The Bucs went 25-2 in dual meets over the last two seasons along with winning the pair of state championships.

Rigby met with his team on Wednesday morning to tell them why he was leaving.

He said the appeal of coaching a Division I program with a strong feeder system was too good to pass up.

“There were some sad guys,” said Rigby. “But that team (at Milford) is going to be so strong next year. They’ll be OK no matter who they have coaching them.”

At CR, Rigby takes over a program coming off an uncharacteristic 8-12 season, although the Riders did reach the second round of the DIAA Division I dual-meet wrestling state tournament.

Dicky Howell, who coached CR to eight Division I state titles, was arrested in January on charges of having an improper relationship with a female student. Howell was Rigby’s coach.

Rigby knows there’s still some healing that needs to take place as the program moves forward.

When he started at Milford, Rigby also had to do some rebuilding with the Bucs.

“Part of my thing was, I’m going to need a couple years,” said Rigby. “I’m going to need you guys to be patient and it’s not going to be solved overnight. We’re going to have to change the culture. But this place is definitely a couple steps ahead of where it was when I took over at Milford.

“It’ll be a faster transition but it won’t be a year. It’ll take two or three years. But we’ll get there, that’s for sure. We’ll get there.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

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