Hailing from Delafield, Alex Rigsby, goaltender of the
U.S. women’s national ice hockey team, notes that bonds
forged with teammates can be everlasting.
“I was lucky to have such great teammates
and coaches who were supportive and it was great. I
loved it. ... I had a great time (playing) with the guys
and I am still such good friends with the guys I grew up
playing with,” she says. As fate would have it, Rigsby
is even engaged to a former teammate.
“We played together in fifth, eighth and
ninth grade and his dad was my coach,” she notes of the
Rigsby started skating at just five years
old and started learning the game of hockey at six,
following in her older brother’s footsteps.
“Of course I had to be just like my older
brother,” she muses. “I wanted to play hockey and right
away both of us were just absolutely hooked on it. I
played other sports, but I always just fell in love with
She went on to play hockey through high
school and earned a spot as goalie on UW-Madison women’s
hockey team, as well as the International Ice Hockey
Federation’s U18, U22 and senior teams.
Rigsby notes that after trying on the
goalie gear for the first time at a young age, she was
instantly obsessed with the position. “You’re kind of in
your own little world back there. You’re the last line
of defense, so there’s a lot more pressure on it and I
think I like the pressure of it and the competitiveness
and … I like the competition of them trying to score and
me trying to stop the puck,” she explains.
Rigsby had to overcome a major challenge
along the way to Olympic gold. After having double hip
surgery at the ages of 18 and 19, a doctor told her she
would never play again – a verdict for which she sought
a second opinion. After a tragic cut from the 2014
Winter Olympics team, Rigsby worked hard to make a spot
for herself on the 2018 team.
“I (thought), ‘Alright, if I’m going for
it, I’m going for 2018 and I’m all in and this is what
I’m going to do,’” she says.
Following a long and intensive rehab
program for her hip surgeries, Rigsby put everything
into her training. She worked with a strength coach, a
goalie coach and played on the men’s league.
“You have to be really accountable for
yourself and make sure you’re putting in the work day in
and day out,” she explains. “You’re at the gym at least
two hours a day, you’re on the ice for a couple hours,
and you know the added preparation (of) making sure
you’re properly hydrated, (you have) proper nutrition
going into your body, you’re getting the treatment that
All her hard work paid off and Rigsby
earned a position as a goaltender on the U.S. women’s
national team, a team that broke a 20-year streak in the
championship game against Canada, the third consecutive
championship Olympic game against the country.
The game came down to a thrilling
shoot-out that resulted in a 3-2 defeat and USA’s first
gold medal in women’s hockey in two decades.
“This is something that we’ve worked so
hard for (and) for so long and this is something that we
aimed to accomplish, and to actually accomplish that was
so surreal,” Rigsby says. “And to do it with the group
of women that we did it with was just that much better.”
That strong group of women also had
another thrilling victory the year prior: a successful
boycott in honor of gender equality in USA Hockey. The
team had tried negotiating with USA Hockey in the past
to get the same staffing, equipment, medical treatments
and more that the men’s hockey teams were offered, only
to make no progress. In the end, the team decided that
while they were the hosts of the World Championship
game, they needed to take a stand and would not attend.
“We believed it was going to help grow
the game of women’s hockey and that’s what we’re aiming
to do and inspire the next generation,” she explains.
“So for us, to be able to take a stance like that
together as a team, and everyone stood strong, to come
out together with an agreement from USA Hockey was
The team missed the two-week training
camp, but continued training on their own. Two days
before their first game, the organization agreed to work
with the women. The team then proudly went to Worlds and
ended up winning the gold medal in overtime, the first
gold medal World Championship win on U.S. soil,
according to Rigsby.
Rigsby is currently back in training with
hopes to make it to the 2022 Winter Olympics. With a
degree in communications and minor in entrepreneurship
and digital studies from UW-Madison, Rigsby would one
day like to work in the business industry. “I think if
hockey doesn’t work out then I would definitely like to
pursue something in the business world, or even
something with a nonprofit,” she says. “I would love to
do so something with that. … I want to learn from other
people and take as many opportunities as I can.”
Already on a path to nonprofit work,
Rigsby is currently in her second year as an athlete
mentor for Classroom Champions, a nonprofit organization
started by Olympic bobsledder Steve Mesler. The program
utilizes national team level athletes as mentors for
youth to inspire goal-setting, leadership and to prove
that hard work and dedication can achieve dreams.
“I love working with kids and even doing
something where I’m providing more opportunities for
kids to be able to play more sports or get hockey
equipment because it’s so expensive,” she says.
During her time with the Olympics, Rigsby
also partnered with Ivory Ella, an online retailer
affiliated with Save the Elephants that works with
wildlife conservation of elephants.
Rigsby notes that she wouldn’t have
gotten far without the constant support from her family,
especially the selflessness and dedication of her
parents who traveled all over the country in support of
her and and her brothers without ever complaining.
“They’re my biggest supporters, my number one fans,
(and I am) really excited to be able to share this
journey with them and be able to have them over in South
Korea,” she says. “(I’m) really lucky to have them.”