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Momversation: Lori Riggs, Absegami girls basketball mom

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Glory Days Magazine’s “Momversation” is a series in which publisher Dave O’Sullivan talks with the mother of an area senior student-athlete to get her thoughts on her son’s or daughter’s high school sports career and to give readers an insight into what that athlete is like when not playing sports. This month, Sully spoke to Lori Riggs, mom of Absegami basketball and lacrosse standout Mary Riggs. Lori is also mom to John, who is a 24-year-old staff sergeant in the Air Force stationed in Italy. John was a soccer player during his days at Absegami, and Lori is a 1981 graduate of the high school. Sully: How has this year gone for you, and has it been emotional for you knowing it’s Mary’s last year of high school? Lori: Very emotional. We didn’t want the basketball season to end. It’s been a good year. She’s played well and I’m very proud of her. With the team at Absegami the past four years, we’ve had a great group between the girls and the parents. I’m going to miss everybody. Sully: How cool was that for you as a parent knowing that she was playing alongside all her best friends? Lori: It makes it even more special. We had a great group. Sully: Did you play any sports in high school? Lori Riggs, right, is the mother of Absegami senior basketball and lacrosse player Mary Riggs. Lori also is a graduate of Absegami High School. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O'Sullivan) Lori Riggs, right, is the mother of Absegami senior basketball and lacrosse player Mary Riggs. Lori also is a graduate of Absegami High School. (Glory Days Magazine photos/Dave O’Sullivan) Lori: I played softball, but that was just in a rec league. I did track, and I was the baseball manager. When I was growing up, my friends and I didn’t do sports that much. It’s not like it is today where they are all involved. I wish it was like that. Sully: Was there a certain age when you knew Mary was going to be a good athlete? Lori: Very young. The first time she went out there, the girl had never had a basketball in her hands and she just knew how to handle the ball. She was a good soccer player when she played. She’s good at whatever she does. Sully: At what age did she really separate herself as a basketball player from the kids who were her age? Lori: Probably around age 9. She’s always been athletic, and she doesn’t get any of it from me. She just knows how to play whatever sport she is playing. Sully: What’s going through your mind when you see her out on the court or the lacrosse field? Lori: I’m happy, and proud. She plays hard. I love to watch her, and that’s what I’m going to miss. I’m not going to be going to games three or four days a week and have that schedule. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Sully: How much different is she now than when she was in middle school? Not only in sports, but also the person she has become? Lori: She’s very independent. She doesn’t need her mom like she used to. She’s like me, if she wants something, she’ll do it. I used to have to drag her out of bed to get her to school, but now she does what she has to do. She used to offer, but now I have to ask. For instance, when she was playing football for the powder puff (Absegami girls vs. Oakcrest girls), I didn’t know she was the quarterback until I got there. Everybody else knew, all the other moms knew. They were asking me, ‘what do you think about Mary playing quarterback?’ And I said, ‘well, she never told me.’ Sully: What was her high school career like? When she was a freshman, did you have any expectations about what she might accomplish or what type of player she would become? Mary Riggs was the point guard for the girls basketball team this past season, leading the Braves to 15 wins and a spot in the South Jersey Group 4 state playoffs. Mary Riggs was the point guard for the girls basketball team this past season, leading the Braves to 15 wins and a spot in the South Jersey Group 4 state playoffs. Lori: I knew with basketball she was going to step up and become good at it, which she has. She amazes me. She has good court sense. She’s a team player. She doesn’t worry about going to the basket and scoring, she knows where she has to get the ball. And with that group of girls, they all helped each other grow and were all supportive. They all wanted the best for each other, and I think that made them all well-rounded. Sully: How quickly does it go by for a parent? As a high school kid, you think your high school career is so long. Lori: To me, this year went by the fastest. With her being a senior we’ve been busy. She’s always busy at school. The days are crazy, late nights, getting up early to start it all over again. It went very fast this year. Too fast. Sully: Tell me a little bit about your mom, Mary. What’s she like in the stands? Does she get crazy during the games? Mary: She’s not as bad as a she used to be. In the beginning of high school you could hear her from the stands, but now she kind of just keeps it to herself. She says she’s always nervous. Lori: That’s putting it mildly! Sully: Has your mom changed in your eyes in the last four years? Mary: She’s calmer when it comes to me playing sports. Lori: I am a lot calmer. But the Atlantic City game was tough for me (a 45-40 Absegami win on Feb. 11). I had to get out of the stands. I was pacing and pacing, back and forth. It probably took a few years off my life watching her play basketball this year. You always want the best for them, but you know they can’t win them all. But they had a great season this year (17-8 record overall). Sully: What was it about that particular game? Lori: It was just stressful. We were up, then we were way down, then came back and won. It was just nail-biting, and it was a rough game. And they needed that win at that time. Sully: What about the school in particular, Absegami. There seems to be a lot of very competitive kids there and some good sports programs. How much has that helped Mary grow into the person she is today? Lori: I think a lot. Her coaches are mentors and they have helped her. I think the lacrosse team is going to have a good year, and her lacrosse coaches are wonderful, too. Everybody is supportive there. It’s just good all the way around. Sully: What’s been the biggest challenge for you raising a teenage daughter? Lori: Just watching her grow and become independent in who she is. She’s like me, in a way. She doesn’t want to admit that, but she is a lot like me. And, she thinks money grows on trees. Sully: A lot of moms say the early years of high school are very difficult as kids go through attitude changes and trying to gain their independence. Lori: We have disagreements. But I never have to make her do her homework or anything like that. My son, on the other hand … . That’s the difference between her and John, with John I always had to stay on top of what he was doing. And she thinks I’m sometimes nosy and worry too much. I want to know where she is all the time and who she is with. But that’s just the way I am. Sully: What’s that like for you, Mary, as a teenager always having your mom on your case? Mary: Sometimes it’s annoying and frustrating. I know she knows I’m a good kid and wouldn’t do anything wrong, but I know it’s just because she cares. We’re similar because we both worry about stuff, and I understand she’s worrying about her kid. I guess I’m lucky to have that. Sully: What was Mary like as a toddler? Lori: She was a piece of work. Strong-willed. I’ll never forget, one day her little cousin was over and they were watching Rug Rats, and I come in the room and she’s got him by the collar and is saying, ‘I’m the meanest girl in town and don’t you mess with me.’ She knew what she wanted. She was fun, had a great sense of humor. Just a good kid all around. She was very sweet and rambunctious. She was also very competitive with her brother. Anything he was doing, she wanted to do. And he didn’t want that, of course, but she really wanted to do what he was doing. Sully: What do you think you’ll remember most about her high school career once it is over? Lori: Probably how loyal she is to her friends and team. She’s a good kid, and I hope the girls coming up have what they had as a team and at school. Sully: What advice would you give to a mom who has an eighth-grader now who will be in high school next year? Lori: Be prepared for the ride. It’s crazy, but fun. Don’t miss any games. Be there as much as you can. Support them, and when they lose and are in a bad mood, don’t talk to them. Just be there as much as you can. Don’t worry about the housework. Sully: Mary, how important has her support been for you throughout your career? It has to be great knowing she is in the stands at every game. Mary: I consider myself lucky because some kids don’t have what I have. Just having that support from your parents, and going home and seeing how proud they are of you just makes you feel 10 times better about what you did. Lori: I think that is very important. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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