Rigby named to wrestling Hall of Fame

Roy Rigby never thought he’d be that good of a wrestling coach.

So when he landed the job at Milford High in the late 1970s, he put in a call to his coach at Caesar Rodney, Charlie Wilt.

“He said, ‘You know what? Just be yourself,’” said Rigby. “I said, ‘OK.’ And that’s what I did.”

The results speak for themselves.

In four years coaching the Buccaneers, Rigby led them to a pair of state titles (1980, ‘81) and just missed winning a third.

For that accomplishment, as well as for his individual career at CR, the 66-year-old Rigby was inducted into the Delaware Wrestling Hall of Fame last month.

The Rigby name and wrestling have always gone together around Delaware, of course.

Roy’s brother, Harry, the former Dover High coach, went into the Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012. Roy proudly points out that there’s been a Rigby involved in wrestling for the last 55 years.

In his induction speech, Rigby said that maybe the family name itself ought to go into the Hall of Fame.

“We’ve done so much for wrestling,” said Roy, who’s coached in the Little Bucs youth program for 32 years.

But, the way the story goes, if Reese — the oldest of the four Rigby boys — had been a little better at basketball, the Rigbys may have never discovered wrestling.

It seems that when Reese first started playing basketball, the boys’ father — also named Reese — was upset that his son wasn’t getting more playing time. The coach told him to come out to the next game.

“After the game my dad walked up and said, ‘You’ll never hear me say another word,’” Roy joked. “He said, ‘You’ve got any other sports for these boys?’ And Mr. Wilt said, ‘I’m the wrestling coach. Bring them out for wrestling.’

“Dad said, ‘They’ll be there.’”

Sure enough, each of the brothers, Reese, Harry, Roy and Morgan, ended up on the mats.

A 1970 CR grad, Roy was good enough to wrestle on the varsity as an eighth-grader. He ended up winning a pair of state championships and four Henlopen Conference titles.rigby-family-photo

With Milford, he was named the state Coach of the Year three times. Besides the two team state crowns, the Bucs placed second in Rigby’s second season.

“I told them, ‘You give me three years and I’ll bust into the top three (in the state),’” Rigby recalled. “They didn’t believe me. And we did it within two years.

“I was lucky. I was very fortunate. I had some good kids and Mr. Wilt was my mentor.”

Roy said about a month ago the Rigby brothers got together with Wilt and Jerry Buckworth, another former CR coach. Wilt was inducted into the Delaware Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2000.

“Boy, we just had a ball,” said Rigby. “We were talking about a lot of things. … I just copied my coaches. That’s the way it was.”

Rigby, who worked as a sales representative for Delaware Brick before retiring, said he always felt a lot of pressure to win in the tough, demanding sport.

But it also gave him and brothers an identity, something they could take pride in.

“We came from a very, very poor family,” said Rigby. “More or less your brothers were your best friends. We kind of always envied the other kids.

“Then Reese started wrestling and then, when I got to seventh grade, I started wrestling. Mr. Wilt and Mr. Buckworth kind of took us under their wing and made all of us what we are today. I’m very proud that we made a name for ourselves.”

Odds & ends

  • This year’s Slam Dunk to the Beach basketball tournament will open with a Unified game. The contest, which includes Special Olympics athletes, will be played as the first game of the day on Dec. 29 at Cape Henlopen High. The list of national teams playing in this year’s Slam Dunk will be announced at Dover’s Grotto’s Pizza on Nov. 9 at 11:30 a.m. Smyrna will be playing two games at the tourney.
  • St. Thomas More’s Gillian Crawford was named a state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman, which honors student-athletes for accomplishment on and off the field. A Hartly resident, Crawford plays volleyball for the Ravens.
  • The Henlopen Conference championship game in boys’ soccer will be an intra-district contest with North champion Sussex Central facing South winner Indian River on Monday at Milford High at 7 p.m. IR topped the Knights, 1-0, on Oct. 4.
  • Salesianum announced a partnership with the City of Wilmington on Wednesday to renovate Baynard Stadium. The cost of the project could be as much as $20 million and is slated to include an artificial surface, new lights, bleachers, track and a scoreboard among other upgrades to the multi-use facility. The other schools that play football at Baynard — St. Elizabeth, Howard and Delaware Military — will still be able to lease the stadium.
  • Wesley College men’s basketball coach Dean Burrows recently took his players on a field trip to Dover Air Force Base. The Wolverines met with different officials at the base to reinforce the idea of paying attention to details. “To see how much pride and passion that each and every person had in his job no matter where they fall in the chain of command was inspiring,” said Burrows. “They all know and understand that they are accountable to the mission and that it is greater than any of them.”
  • Delaware State is asking fans attending home games in November to donate canned goods or other non-perishable food items. The collection will be given to local food banks.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.