Ball State men's tennis player Collin Rigney pursues dream of becoming a teacher

<p>Redshirt junior Collin Rigney set to return a serve in his singles match against IU Southeast at Northwest YMCA in Muncie, Ind. Feb. 3. <strong>Eric Pritchett, DN</strong></p>

Redshirt junior Collin Rigney set to return a serve in his singles match against IU Southeast at Northwest YMCA in Muncie, Ind. Feb. 3. Eric Pritchett, DN

After leaving the blue hallways of Greensburg High School in 2014, Collin Rigney knew he wanted to be a teacher.

Now a redshirt junior men's tennis player at Ball State, Rigney has put his plan of teaching into action. In the fall of 2017, he served as a student-teacher for 16 weeks at Daleville Elementary School. The opportunity made him realize that this is where he wanted to be. 

“Being at Daleville was great, along with the community,” Rigney said. “I loved my student-teaching placement. I met a lot of great people. I was able to be with a bunch of very motivated young kids that were a blast to be around.”

While at Daleville, Rigney taught social studies and science classes to sixth-graders, a level in school Rigney thinks is an important time for students. 

“Every year is important,” Rigney said. “But [sixth grade] is the transition from elementary to junior high.”

The inspiration to be a teacher came from his parents. June Rigney, his mother and a former tennis player at UIndy, works at Greensburg High School.

His father, John Rigney, is an athletic director and health teacher at Greensburg Jr. High School.

Now that he has the chance to form his own style of teaching, Collin puts an emphasis on building a relationship with his students in the classroom.

“Just being able to relate with kids ... it's probably the biggest thing with teaching in my mind,” Collin said. “As someone who graduated from college, you obviously should know the content that you’re teaching in elementary. I passed elementary, so I know what I’m teaching. But being able to break it down and being able to relate with the kids. In my mind, that is what separates good from great teachers.”

This season, after his student teaching stint, Collin returned to play tennis for the men’s tennis team after sitting out with injuries. He has played in 16 combined singles and doubles matches this season. In doubles play, Collin is paired up with junior Marko Guzina, and the duo has won four matches at a No. 2 doubles position.

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Head coach Bill Richards said Collin has had a hard luck career.

“He’s been out most of his career with injuries, so he has had a very brief career,” Richards said. “He missed almost all of his sophomore year and all of his junior year. We’re going to miss him. He’s done a great job for us in doubles, and I’m sure — given the opportunity — he would do a great job in singles as well. But Collin has been a hard worker and a great team player.”

With his decision to continue his collegiate tennis career, Collin will continue to show leadership on and off the court. In a way, Collin also serves as a teacher for the underclassmen on the team. Freshman tennis player Bryce Bonin said he has learned physical and mental tips from Collin.

“I have learned from him that every day you've got to come in and work hard and stay positive,” Bonin said. “He helps me during my matches. I play with a lot of energy and a lot of focus. He really just makes you wanna get better.”

From the classroom to the tennis court, Collin has impacted many lives, both students and teammates. Looking ahead, Collin said he’s excited for his plans as a teacher and looks forward to finishing out his collegiate career. 

Contact Patrick Murphy with comments at prmurphy2@bsu.edu or on Twitter @PMURPH505.

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