Day 72: Chris Riga

Jake NovakSenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2009

Riga started for 3 head coaches - Naso, Garrett, and MacElreavy


I've written a lot about Matt Sodl '88 on this blog over the years, making a point to admire his fortitude after going 0-30 as a varsity player despite excellent play week in and week out.

But a man who went through the same kind of test with similar overall results despite stellar play was Chris Riga '87.

The Westfield, MA, native came to Columbia in 1983 and after an impressive freshman campaign at linebacker and offensive guard, he caught the eye of head coach Bob Naso before the 1984 season and was starting a few games by the end of that year.

In 1985, under new head coach Jim Garrett, Riga had a stand out junior year. He collected 105 tackles and recovered four fumbles. But the Lions stumbled through a rough year, going 0-10 and coming close to victory in just one game, (a 13-10 loss to Bucknell).

When Larry MacElreavy took over as yet another head coach in 1986, he could see that Riga was the team leader and he was indeed elected captain of the squad.

'86 turned out to be another 0-10 season, but Riga made Honorable Mention All Ivy and proved he could stay focused and motivated throughout all the setbacks.

After Columbia, Riga became a decorated officer in the U.S. Army.

His contributions to his country and Alma Mater are very appreciated.