MARSHALL- Southwest Minnesota State assistant volleyball coach Raftyn Rignell will not be returning to the bench for the Mustangs this upcoming season.
Rignell has decided to retire from coaching at the age of 32 in order to spend more time with her family, which includes three children under the age of 10.
The travel schedule, mixed with the responsibilities at home, created a conflict.
Photo Courtesy of Greg Deveraux/SMSU Athletic Communications
Southwest Minnesota State Assistant Volleyball coach Raftyn Rignell gives her team instructions during a regular season contest between the Mustangs and Concordia St. Paul during the 2012 season. Rignell will not be returning to the bench this season, deciding to retire, citing family time.
It doesn't get any easier in the offseason.
" I think a lot of poeple forget about the recruiting and the camps," Rignell said. "You are on the road a lot and it's hard to be away from kids and family. During the season, coaching is not an 8-to-5 job. It's 24-7, so you're gone when you need to be gone."
While Rignell's coaching resume may be shorter than most, it still leaves a good impression.
After serving as a graduate assistant with the program during the 2009 season, Rignell joined the staff as an assistant prior to the 2010 season alongside current head coach Terry Culhane.
Rignell was part of a coaching staff that qualified for the NCAA Division II Volleyball Tournament all four years she was on staff.
The Mustangs finished 25-8 in her season as a graduate assistant and followed that up with records of 27-4, 25-7, 30-3 and 24-8 as assistant coach.
They won the NSIC regular season and Tournament championship in 2012.
Rignell, a Marshall native and MHS graduate, earned a volleyball scholarship to the University of Connecticut after high school.
She was a four-year letterwinner at UConn and finished with 446 kills and 189 blocks.
After graduating from UConn, she spent three seasons as the head coach at Presentation College (Div. III) in Aberdeen, S.D. In her final season at Presentation, she helped the school reach a record 14 wins during the 2006 season.
Rignell then spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Marquette University before she returned home to Marshall and joined SMSU.
Culhane was Rignell's basketball coach in high school and also coached her in club volleyball for two years.
He knew she had the tools to be successful.
"She was very athletic and tough mentally," Culhane said. " She was a high school mid and we played her on the outside to prepare her for college. That wasn't an easy transition to make. She was also a great teammate."
Playing Division I volleyball and then later helping coach at that level is something she feels helped her tremendously.
"It was a really cool experience," Rignell said. "That kind of sparked my interest for wanting to coach. Like a lot of kids after college, I didn't know what I wanted to do."
It was when she took the job at Marquette that she remembered how crazy the schedule can be.
She remembers having seemingly no days off with the constant cycle of being gone every weekend, driving and flying somewhere different every day or two.
"It was just a grind," Rignell said. "I moved back home and started a family and then the job on Terry's staff opened up. It was a good fit."
While she came to the realization that this was the right thing to do, it wasn't an easy decision.
"It was a very hard decison," Rignell said. "It wasn't something that happened overnight. Volleyball is my first love. I've been playing it forever. I've either been playing or coaching on a college bench for 14 years. It's going to be weird not doing that this fall."
She added the fact that her respect and admiration for the SMSU program also made it difficult.
"I've known Terry and Paul (assistant coach Paul Soupir) for years and I love the camaraderie that is a part of that program and I don't think you can ever replace that. I will miss being a part of that deparment. We also have great kids. I will miss talking to them every day. I will miss talking to them every day."
With the combination of her volleyball schedule and husband Derek (a former SMSU baseball player) owning a paint contracting business, both sides were trying to battle a crazy schedule.
"When you add two crazy schedules together, it just becomes too hard to juggle," Rignell said. "It was a hard decision to come to. I was going to be a college coach for the long haul. When you have to change your priorities that quickly, it's not an easy thing to do."
Rignell will now be settling into her 8-to-5 job working with her father at Birath Wealth Management as a client service and office manager.
She also took some advice from Soupir and Culhane (both of whom have been very supportive of her decision), who have older children.
"They always say you don't get that time back," Rignell said. "You don't want to miss out on that stuff when they're young. My oldest is just getting old enough to get into some things and I want to be there to watch just like my parents were for me. I don't want to miss that stuff."
With the search for the new assistant coach still ongoing, Culhane knows that Rignell will be missed, but also knows she is making the right decision.
"She was a very important piece of our staff," Culhane said. "She was very good at recruiting and was very organized in that aspect and she was a perfect fit for team chemistry. The coaching staff knows that this was a tough decision and that she is ready for a new stage in her life and she is going to be great at that as well."