Who is Alex Rigsby?
Alex Rigsby's name was not called when members of the 2014 U.S. women's Olympic hockey team were informed who would be going to Sochi. Disappointed but not discouraged, Rigsby returned home and set upon a mission to make it to the next Olympics in 2018. Carrying the chip of the 2014 snub on her shoulder, Rigsby persevered and is now in position to help the U.S. win its first Olympic gold medal in hockey since 1998.
Alex Rigsby learned to skate when she was five years old, growing up in Wisconsin. At six, she first put on the goalie pads, and from that point on she was hooked.
At six years old in 1998, the same year of her debut in goal for her all-boys hockey team, Rigsby started to dream of playing at the Olympic Games. Inspired by the first, and only, U.S. women’s team to win Olympic hockey gold, Rigsby continued to work toward her goal. As each playing season passed, her understanding of what it would require for her to make it to the Olympics was made clearer.
With the support of her family, Rigsby joined more travel teams, always playing against and with the boys.
From fifth grade to her senior year in high school, rides to and from rinks became a family ritual. Two of those years she played for a team centered in Chicago, a two-hour drive from her home in Wisconsin.
When she was 16, Rigsby attended a national development camp with USA Hockey. Her play at the camp earned her an invitation to the Under-18 USA August Festival held in Lake Placid, NY. It was an offer that validated the hard work Rigsby had put in to that point, making her ultimate goal of winning a roster spot on the U.S. National team seem all the more attainable.
Before her freshman and sophomore seasons at the University of Wisconsin, Rigsby would need to have major hip surgery, putting her Olympic goals in jeopardy. Doctors initially told her the possibility of playing elite hockey after her rehab was unlikely. The surgeries were so intense that she had to relearn how to walk, and eventually skate, after both procedures. “Dropping into a butterfly again was one of the most terrifying things,” Rigsby told NBCOlympics.
The proof of her recovery can be seen on the ice, where Rigsby has played over 1,500 minutes for the U.S. national women’s team, turning away 525 shots with a record of 19 wins, four overtime wins and four losses.
"Not all goalies are weird."
Rigsby has won four world championship gold medals with the U.S. women’s national team.
At the University of Wisconsin, Rigsby helped the Badgers to a national championship in 2011, alongside current U.S. teammate Brianna Decker.
Playing in a record 133 games over four years at the University of Wisconsin for head coach, and 1980 Miracle on Ice forward Mark Johnson, Rigsby racked up 100 wins (also a school record), 23 loses and eight ties. Rigsby also holds Wisconsin school records for career saves (3,126) and minutes played (7,881).
With an appearance in PyeongChang, Rigsby can keep the Olympic streak of Wisconsin Badger netminders backstopping the U.S. women at the Olympic Games alive.
Despite the intense rivalry the U.S. continues to have with Canada’s women’s hockey team, Rigsby says Canada forward Blayre Turnbull is one of her best friends. The two first became friends as teammates at the University of Wisconsin. Even as they travel with their respective national teams, their bond as friends remains as strong as ever over phone calls, texts and Snapchat. Their conversations do include banter over hockey, but they say they're careful to avoid divulging team secrets.