• 59°

End of an era

1216 riggs_2

Riggs talks career, future and what it takes to be a coach

Since the T.R. Miller field house opened its doors a little over a decade ago it’s been his place of “business,” but come next April, the 27-year, four-time state champion will walk away from this office and from the game he’s loved coaching for so long.

T.R. Miller head coach Jamie Riggs is as decorated as any

head coach in Alabama High School football history.

His office is spacious, neat, but not immaculate. On the walls hang posters and on the counter tops and desk are memorabilia, at rest in the home they’ve come to know over the years.

On Sept. 25, Riggs achieved a personal milestone when he eclipsed the 300-win mark – a feat only three other coaches in Alabama high school football history have accomplished. Currently, he sits at 305 wins, the third most all-time in state his

tory.

Riggs began his head-coaching career in Opp. In 1989, the TRM alum became the head coa

ch for his alma mater.

“When I got the opportunity to come back here, it was like a bonus for me,” said Riggs.

“It’s something I didn’t really expect. If you would have told me that I

was going to spend this much time here I would have felt really good about it, but I would have been shocked.”

In recent years speculation has surrounded Riggs’ retirement. Riggs said he took the time he needed after this past season to evaluate the situation.

“Every year I would kind of take stock of the season and where I am, particularly physically, because I had heart issues about 10 years ago,” he said.

Riggs said health did weigh into his decision, but assures everyone, that as of today, his health is just fine.

“I feel good,” he said. “Even though I’m retiring and I’m concerned about my health, I think I’m at the point I still feel good enough to go do some other things.

“One thing about coaching is the structure all the time,” he said. “In coaching you deal with seasons. We go from football season, to off-season, to spring training to summer to the season again.

“You’re in that routine, and you stay on it,” he said. “There are some good things about that, but I think its time for me to slow down a little bit and to get off that routine.”

The veteran head coach seems content with the decision to “hang up the tie” but knows he’ll miss the game.

“When it comes time to practice football, it’ll hit me hard,” he said.

“I’ve been part of a football team for 38 years,” he said. “So it’s going to be kind of tough. I really think I have to look on the good side.”

Riggs said he will remain a loyal Tiger fan.

“I’ll always be supportive of the T.R. Miller Tigers, and I’m sure I can do something one way or another to help without being directly involved all the time,” he said. “I look forward to that. I think the future for T.R. Miller looks good.

“I’ll miss coaching,” he said. “There is absolutely no doubt about that. But I’m kind of ready to move on to the next phase in my life.”

Riggs will officially retire on April 1, and at this point, he hasn’t made any concrete plans.

“I know I’m not going to go sit in a chair somewhere,” he said. “It’s difficult when you have been as active as I have.

“So, I’m going to look at some options and things I can do to keep busy,” he said. “The good thing is I don’t have to make any of those decisions right now.

“From now until the first of April I can kind of step back and look at some things I might want to do,” he said.

With his career winding down, Riggs seems to have a strong sense of perspective.

“I’m 60 years old,” he said. “When you’re young, you don’t ever think about being 60, because it’s so far in the future, but I feel really blessed to be able to do what I do and be what I’m able to be.

“Coaching is a tough business that can be very stressful, whether you win or lose,” he said. “To do it this long, I would never have dreamt that.”