Mike Rigell on his time as SFU’s football coach

Rigell and his “winning every day” approach to coaching

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photo of head coach Mike Rigell hugging a player on the field.
PHOTO: Garrett James / SFU Athletics

By: Simran Sarai, Sports Writer

The SFU football team recently recorded their first win of the season in a blowout victory against visiting West Texas A&M. This was their first win as members of the Lone Star Conferencewhich they joined at the beginning of the 2022 season.

The victory is just the ninth win for the Red Leafs program since the 2013 season. Their 2012 run saw SFU record an overall record of 5–6, which dropped to 3–7 by 2013. In 2014, the team won two out of their four conference games, but zero games against their out-of-conference opponents. Following that, the team went on a two-year stretch, from 2015 until 2017, without a single victory. In 2018, SFU broke their two-year winless drought the same season that current head coach Mike Rigell joined the football program. The Peak reached out to Rigell for his perspective on the challenges SFU has faced in putting up wins over the last 10 years.

Rigell said one of his most memorable moments as head coach was the Red Leaf’s recent win on senior night atop Burnaby Mountain. Adding to what else he feels has highlighted his time as coach, he said, “Its been great to watch over and mentor our football student athletes, and help guide them to make great decisions on and off the field.”

In hoping to build momentum off the near-end-of-season victory, Rigell clearly expressed the team has no plans to slow down. “We build on this last win [by] having composure, and getting ready for the next opponent like we usually do every week.”

The seasoned head coach said that the Red Leafs “can’t get complacent and rest on our laurels.” This is especially true as SFU prepares to face the UBC Thunderbirds in the upcoming Shrum Bowl, set to take place on December 2 for the first time in 12 years.

As for what comes next for the football team, Coach Rigell laid out his expectations for diligent offseason training after the 2022 season ends. “After the Shrum Bowl, I look forward to getting back to work hard for our winter season preparation and conditioning,” he said.

Throughout all the questions, Rigell expressed the team-first attitude that has characterized his time leading SFU. “As coaches, we love to prepare and see our kids [and] program grow as well. We are all trying to be consistent and be the best we can be everyday. We talk about ‘winning the day’ as a team everyday.”

Throughout it all, Rigell is ecstatic about the growth his players and the team have gone through since he joined the program. “In this profession, it’s not all about the wins and losses, but the journey. The comradery and relationships that have grown with not only myself, but with my staff [and] players as well.”