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May 22, 2013

Mountaineer proud





Defy genetics.

Words that not only have defined the path of certified personal/sports performance trainer and West Virginia native Roger Riggle, but have inspired an enterprise.

Riggle, 38, grew up in Moundsville but moved to Franklin, during his high school years. While he had always been interested in the game at football as a 165-pound defensive end his options were limited in terms of college football.

"I'm from a small-town in West Virginia, wasn't recruited out of high school but I understood I had to defy my genetics," he said.

So Riggle enlisted in the Army and spent ten years there, bulking up and eventually got the opportunity to make his dreams a reality by spending three seasons as an inside wide receiver and safety for the Mannheim Redskins, which was a league down from the NFL Europe during his time in Germany.

"That was awesome. To carry on the passion I have for football overseas," he said.

Once his professional career was over, that passion still burned for the game of football and Riggle began the art of honing athletes' skills as a certified personal trainer at a local gym while working a full-time job with the federal government.

As his reputation grew, Riggle moved onto the next stage by opening his own training business in Colonial Heights, Virginia, that focuses on improving not only an athlete's physical development, but mentally and spiritually as well. When it came to selecting a name for the venture, the first thing that came to mind was what had helped him carve his way: DefyGENETICS.

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Growing up in West Virginia, Riggle always had eyes for the Mountaineers. Recalling big moments from the past such as Major Harris against Penn State, the state native fulfilled a promise to himself in 2004 when he became a season ticket holder to this day makes the five hour trek for every home game.

He also has several ties to the program outside of his state roots.

Riggle has served as the personal trainer and mentor of current West Virginia offense tackle Quinton Spain since his junior season in high school. He actually was the person that drove Spain to Morgantown once he received a qualifying NCAA test score.

Over the years Riggle has observed Spain's maturation from a high-school student to a college starter along the West Virginia offensive line and as continued to provide advice when he runs into any problems.

"First year he was ready to pull the strings and walk away. He had a lot of growing to do in all aspects," he said. "Mentally, physically, all aspects he's really transformed. He gets it. I talk to him weekly about his grades and makes sure he's doing the right things."

But even with Spain's accomplishments on the field, Riggle is most proud of the fact that the former U.S. Army All-American is set to graduate from West Virginia this season as the first male in his family to do so.

West Virginia was the first program to talk with Spain and then subsequently offer him a scholarship, which made the Mountaineers hard to beat in his recruitment. And although Riggle proudly bleeds blue and gold which made supporting the decision easy, he can confidently say that he has pushed any of his athletes in any direction.

"My passion is still die hard blue and gold but I have to be unbiased when it comes to these athletes," he said. "It's about the athletes and involving the families with their choices."

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When athletes enroll in the program, Riggle gives them a full body assessment, meaning physical and mental to see the limits with how far each athlete can go. The discussion then focuses on nutrition, along with their goals on and off the field and outlining what it takes to reach those destinations.

"Hard work and dedication leads to success," he said. "There are no shortcuts."

Athletes begin the program anywhere between a freshman in high school to a senior, and there also are youth development classes available for ages 9-14.

The sessions are what Riggle describes as "explosive," and include rubber band resistance, speed training, agility, leg strength, position specific drills and putting the body in motion where to translate the workouts onto the football field.

"People don't know how to translate the bench press onto the football field," he said.

Riggle also serves as a mentor to his athletes, often talking with them about school as well as talking with their parents about the recruiting process and what to expect. He also has taken his athletes to different venues in order to experience college football.

"It gives them a new perspective," he said.

Outside of Spain, some of his notable alumni include quarterback Michael Birdsong from James Madison and offensive lineman Justin Gilbert formerly of Maryland.

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A pair of highly-regarded 2015 prospects currently train with Riggle in Chester (Va.) Thomas Dale defensive lineman Darvin Taylor II and Chesterfield (Va.) Matoaca wide receiver Trevion Armstrong.

Taylor currently has offers from Florida State, Miami, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion and West Virginia. He has been training with Riggle since he was 13-years old and credits the experience to helping him become a better player.

"It's very intense. It's helped me with my explosiveness and staying low and I think I've became a better players. I've been training with him every day and when I come in here he's telling me to stay humble and stay hungry," he said.

The prospective sports management major has been to West Virginia for an unofficial visit and plans to return to Morgantown this summer for a summer camp session along with trips to Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Maryland, and N.C. State. Visits to Miami and Florida State also are also scheduled.

"For me this recruiting process has been fun and I'm trying to enjoy it for the next few years in high school. It's an honor to know that all of these different schools have been offering me scholarships," he said.

Armstrong has been involved with Riggle for around a month and plans to focus his time on improving his speed, quickness and agility. At 6-foot-3, Armstrong has already garnered plenty of attention from programs with a number of schools stopping by to see him during the spring evaluation period and an offer from Old Dominion.

"I'm a pretty big wide receiver and it's pretty hard to play any single coverage on me. I can jump and have solid hands," he said. "My weakness is my speed but Roger is going to get me there."

Like Taylor, he expects to take several visits this summer including a stop in Morgantown for one of the summer camp sessions.

Both prospects expect to take their time with their recruitments and both are active in volunteer work and community service in their communities.

"I used to work with Roger when I was in the military and that's where we've been ever since," said Taylor's father of the same name. "It's very enlightening and rewarding to see him fulfill his dreams."

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Riggle holds training sessions for all sports and has athletes ranging from basketball to soccer to cheerleaders. But one thing remains consistent across all the genres.

"I don't play there is no nonsense. You're coming into my domain so it's time to train," he said.


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