Mon, Apr/15
W Golf
vs Marietta at Otterbein Invite-NorthStar GC
Mon, Apr/15
W Golf
vs Otterbein Tax Bracket Bonanza-NorthStar CC
Mon, Apr/15
M Golf
vs Heidelberg at Otterbein Tax Bracket Bonanza-NorthStar GC
Mon, Apr/15
M Golf
vs Marietta at Otterbein Invite-NorthStar GC
Mon, Apr/15
M Golf
vs Otterbein Tax Bracket Bonanza-NorthStar CC
Mon, Apr/15 3:30 PM
Softball
Hiram
at Marietta
Mon, Apr/15 5:30 PM
Softball
Hiram
at Marietta
Tue, Apr/16
M Golf
vs Ohio Northern at Trine (Ind.) Invite-Zollner G.C.
Tue, Apr/16 1:00 PM
Baseball
Baldwin Wallace
at Heidelberg
Tue, Apr/16 3:30 PM
Men's Tennis
Otterbein
at Ohio Northern

Ohio Athletic Conference

Otterbein senior Carli Rigel Named Printing Concepts Scholar Athlete of the Month

Otterbein Senior Carli Rigel Named Printing Concepts Scholar Athlete of the Month

 

Written by Adam Prescott, Otterbein University Director of Athletic Communications

Adobe Express Version: Rigel's Cinema (adobe.com)

WESTERVILLE, Ohio – Despite change being a normal part of life, it still remains uncomfortable for so many of us. It makes a person feel like they’ve lost control… or second guess what might be next. The world doesn’t stop for anyone.

It’s safe to say that Otterbein University senior Carli Rigel has experienced her share of change over the last four years, but how we handle these adjustments impacts our progress into the future. Adapting in a positive, productive manner is one of the many traits that now has Rigel slated as the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) Scholar-Athlete of the Month for February.

Now in its 26th year of existence, the award honors an exceptional student-athlete on a monthly basis… with each of the 10 league institutions receiving an assigned month of the academic year. Criteria consists of being at sophomore, junior, or senior status, preferably competing in a sport that's in-season, sportsmanlike conduct, and carrying at least a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Sure, Rigel has compiled a 3.51 GPA as a nursing major while earning All-OAC honors on the women’s lacrosse field. Just don’t think any of that has come easy or without the proper approach… considering she entered college during a global pandemic, has weathered through multiple injuries, and is now playing for her third head coach in four years.

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The nearby Hilliard (Darby HS) product arrived to Otterbein in the fall of 2020 with no true guarantee that her first season would even be played, as classes were online and all sports were pushed to second semester. The team ended up playing a conference-only schedule in the chaotic time on campus but it gave Rigel her chance to further a craft that she was still falling in love with, coming from a soccer-heavy family.

“I always thought it was going to be soccer… until lacrosse arrived,” Rigel said with a smile. “I like that it was something different from everyone else and I happened to be pretty decent. I started investing all of my time on the sport and loved how the game was growing. It’s been fun being part of this process to hopefully bring more awareness around campus, the region, and so on.”

Rigel was humbly correct… she is pretty good. The versatile midfielder started all 15 games as a freshman en route to leading the team in ground balls, ranking second in draw controls, and fifth in scoring. But then head coach Alexis Venechanos (who recruited her to be a Cardinal) took another job and assistant Rachael Griffith moved atop the helm…

Nevertheless, Rigel continued bonding admirably with Griffith and broke through to earn All-OAC honors as a sophomore despite missing almost a month due to injury after spring break. She returned with a vengeance, scoring 24 goals in the last seven games and leading the team in draws again. In the postseason, she won a career-high 12 in the OAC Tournament against Baldwin Wallace.

“Carli is the type of teammate that supports you on and off the field,” said junior Maggie Nance, 2x reigning OAC Goalie of the Year. “She is the first person I go to and always knows what to say, whether it’s a positive or negative situation. She there for the team, but is also a very hard worker into anything else that she does in life. I am very grateful to have her as a teammate and friend.”

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Not only was Rigel steadily evolving across the midway point of her college lacrosse career, but she maintained consistent production in the academic setting as a nursing major. In addition to her focused area of study, the motivated student added unrequired nutrition classes to become more educated.

“One of my favorite things about having Carli in class is her inquisitive nature,” said Nadiya Timperman, professor in Health & Sport Sciences. “She took my nutrition class to go deeper into a subject that will not only make her a high-quality healthcare provider… but also benefit her own health and athletics. She truly wants to learn, not just ‘know stuff’ for the next exam. She readily asks questions to take things a step deeper and is obviously carrying this knowledge outside of the classroom.”

Rigel has made it a point to not just rack up A’s on her official transcript, but remain involved around campus. The Academic All-OAC qualifier has been an active member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), performed countless work study jobs for the department, and is on the executive board as secretary of Sigma Alpha Tau sorority.

“The nursing major here is difficult, but really prepares its students for success in the clinical setting,” explained Rigel. “It’s crazy to look back on my first day in a hospital to where I am now. Otterbein is preparing me for real life. I will never know everything, but feel so confident in my abilities to take care of people because of the guidance I’ve been exposed to here.”

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Not all chapters are the smoothest, and Rigel’s calendar year in 2023 definitely featured more than one curveball. Junior season was off to a hot start with consecutive four-goal efforts… before a torn hip flexor cost her nearly the entire month of March once again. She slowly worked her way back into the mix before finishing strong come May, which saw a career-high five goals in the OAC semifinals and then her highest-ever GPA of 3.76 to cap spring semester.

That momentum had things looking back up across the summer months, where overcoming another injury allowed for nice reflection on how to prepare and stay healthy… both mentally and physically. She returned full steam ahead into senior year but, after fall practice, learned that Griffith was departing to take over as head coach at Western Connecticut State.

“I think that I have grown as a player,” Rigel mentioned. “With each new coach, you try to look at it as a new opportunity – to learn something from a different background and perspective. Just picture it as a positive lane instead of any type of setback. Through all of this, I definitely feel like a different person than when I walked in.”

In January, Otterbein hired another young coach on the rise in Brooke Delara. The Lewis Center native was a star at nearby/rival Capital, where she led the nation in points as a fifth-year player in guiding the Comets to the NCAA Championships.

“Carli is constantly working,” Delara said emphatically. “It’s really nice to have a senior that is so dedicated and not only wants so much for the program, but for the other players within it. She has high aspirations and is prepared to leave it all out there. As a new coach, it’s very refreshing and comforting to arrive and have a built-in leader like her.”

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So here we are, the final act. While it seems like Rigel has already worked through a lot, it also feels like there is much more left to accomplish. She is now the unquestioned leader of a program that prepares for life after four-year standouts Emily Willms (all-time leading scorer), Lauren Newkirk and Grace Cory.

Rigel sits as the only true/four-year senior on a roster that has recently seen an influx of new faces, all looking to learn a new system and gel accordingly in attempt to win that elusive OAC title.

“This program has been through a lot of things recently, and the goal is to prove some people wrong this year and reach a new level,” Rigel stated. “A pandemic, multiple coaches, small roster… We had to take those items thrown at us and do our best, together. But I want to see a continued grit and intensity that keeps each other accountable. These situations provide you tools for harder things that come when you’re an adult in the real world.”

“I definitely think she is going to have her best season yet,” added Delara. “I obviously haven’t coached her until right now, but I have seen her play from the other side and believe she has a chance to be considered one of the best to graduate from this program. There is an extreme dedication and you can already feel her presence within the first couple of weeks.”

Speaking of the real world, Rigel is currently precepting (1 on 1) with a nurse this final semester and has accepted a full-time job as a registered nurse in the emergency department at Ohio State East. She will start this summer, and those that have seen her operate at length know she will be just fine.

“I watched Carli listen respectfully to her peers and give classmates the space to ask and learn,” said Timperman. “I have no doubt that she will always serve herself, the community, team members and future patients with expertise. I wish her all the best as she wraps up her last semester and Otterbein, and will miss having her in my lectures.”

Before then, a good three months remain with more chances to make her dedicated support system even prouder. Her parents are the rock and almost never miss a game. Her younger sister (Casey) is now a sophomore on the Otterbein women’s soccer team, with Carli noting how special it’s been overlapping college years alongside her sibling. She met her boyfriend at Otterbein. Her grandfather, Steve, intently watches all live streams from Florida and commonly texts his grade of each performance… rating her from A to F.

“He gave me a B minus one time… that was the lowest,” Rigel said with a hearty laugh. “But it’s a very special thing because I’m not sure everyone has something like that. His passion is something I don’t take for granted, and the support from my family (in general) is something I try to always stop and appreciate.”

Over this coming spring, make sure to keep an eye on this special advocate for Otterbein. Rigel wants nothing more than for the women’s lacrosse program to continue gaining respect on campus and in the athletic world as a whole. She knows these years are precious, is living in the moment, and understands it can be taken at the blink of an eye.

“It’s starting to feel bittersweet… because time has flown by,” Rigel said in conclusion. “There have been learning curves everywhere but I’m thankful to have been part of all the changes. It’s forced me to grow and adapt. Otterbein has brought me so much.”