Having eclipsed the 1,000-win mark in 2015, Spring Arbor University head Coach Sam Riggleman is one of the four-member 2016 ABCA Hall of Fame class. Since 2005, he has led the Cougars to a 358-190 record with five NAIA National Tournament appearances, three regular season conference championships, two conference tournament titles and a runner-up finish in the 2007 NAIA World Series. His career record of 1,004-639-2 has been recorded over nearly four decades at SAU, Dallas Baptist, Bethel College, Southern Illinois and Mount Vernon Nazarene.
IP: What does it mean to you to be recognized as a Hall of Famer?
I’m humbled by the fact that I’m recognized by my peers to receive this award. That makes it really special, when you’re recognized by the guys in the profession, to join that fraternity, if you will. The interesting thing is that for years and years, I’ve been attending the ABCA Hall of Fame banquet and many times I don’t know a lot of the guys that are inducted personally. What’s really interesting to see is what kind of men they are and how they invest in their players. To be a part of that adds credibility to what this pursuit is all about. It’s phenomenal, when you look at that list of names. I’m grateful for my wife and family – who have been extremely supportive – and my past and current players and coaches.
IP: How have you dealt with the day-to-day grind of coaching?
I think that the single most important word in it for me is development, and that goes on the baseball piece of it. It’s important and it’s why guys are attracted to our program – to get better, to improve and have an opportunity to be a part of what is recognized along with what is considered to be a winning program. But at the end of the day, I’m after their emotional development, what they’re doing academically, and certainly their spiritual development. The bottom line is I want guys to exit our program and have moral strength, to be men of character. That piece is really, really essential. I’m spending less time talking about winning championships and more time about developing championship men.
IP: How have you influenced the culture of your program throughout your career?
It comes down to what are the beliefs and values that you hold to be essential to the success of the team. Team culture has everything to do with being able to ultimately have success on the field, but it’s coming from building that kind of success into the lives of our guys. I think that as my career has evolved, it’s become more apparent that it’s about developing young men and coming to grips with the principles they need to have in place when it comes to their marriages, their families, and the impact they’ll have in the workplace. It’s taken on different forms but at this point in my career it’s the focus of what I’m trying to do.
IP: You’ve announced your retirement following the conclusion of this upcoming season. What are your plans after this spring?
I have several former players who are college head coaches and I’m really looking forward to going back and spending time with them. Exponentially, I understand that they’re going to have more impact in a collective sense than one guy will have. I’m really looking forward to program and spend a couple days and just watch, observe, dialogue and see if I can help. My wife and I are looking forward to some time together; [I’ve had] 40 years of her support and I’ve missed a lot. To be able to spend quality time with her is important. Another thing I want to do is writing. I have some things in mind in coaching leadership that really interests me. And one final thing, I want to be able to get into a stream with my fly rod! That’s an important one too, preferably somewhere out in Montana or Colorado; we’ll see.