By Jordan Hall
This is the second part of a three-part series focusing on the three Rider men’s basketball players who competed in their final game last month. This week: Mike Ringgold.
For senior Mike Ringgold, Rider holds a special place in his heart. In May, the 6’7” forward will take the gratifying walk on stage at graduation and accept his degree in communications, something many people from his neighborhood don’t even achieve at the high school level.
“Not a lot of people from my neighborhood or family graduated,” he said. “The whole college experience has been great. I can’t complain, I’ve just been blessed.”
The Third Team All-MAAC selection owned the low blocks from start to finish at Rider, pouring in 1,386 points in his collegiate career, 14th best in program history, and corralled 789 rebounds, fifth-most among all Broncs.
Ringgold was born and raised in the rugged, dangerous streets of North Philadelphia, the place where he learned the game of basketball, but more importantly, was molded as a person.
North Philadelphia, notoriously known for its gun violence and gang-populated streets, claimed many of Ringgold’s friends and relatives, but the experiences only made him stronger.
“To lose anybody, it’s not a good feeling at all,” he said. “The experiences made me tough and who I am today because I take that mindset when I go on the court, that I’m playing for the people I lost.”
Growing up, Ringgold steered clear of the negative influences and remained focused, but the environment in which he resided made it difficult.
“All your friends are missing school and you have bad and negative people around you,” he said. “It was hard just to be different.”
Eluding trouble on the outside, the big-man dominated the paint for Roman Catholic in the prestigious Catholic League. Ringgold averaged 18 points per game and eight rebounds, while earning First Team All-Catholic League honors as well as First Team All-City honors.
The hard work paid off as Ringgold gained scholarship offers from Hofstra, Northeastern, Delaware and looks from other mid-majors, but the Philly schools never pursued him. Other than an offer from La Salle that dissolved following a scandal with its former coach, the Big 5 did not recruit Ringgold, giving him a chip on his shoulder during his career as a Bronc.
“Every time I step on the court, it’s an opportunity to prove myself, so I go with that mindset,” said Ringgold. “When we played Philly teams, it made it a little worse, knowing that they didn’t recruit me, so I made sure I gave my best effort.”
The quick-footed force down low attended Winchendon Prep in Massachusetts to strengthen his academics and SAT scores before eventually coming to Lawrenceville, a suburban setting he felt comfortable in and flourished.
From day one, the crafty post player was an integral part of the Broncs’ success the past four years. Ringgold started in 131 of the 133 games he competed in at Rider, and in his freshman campaign, he served as current NBA forward Jason Thompson’s frontcourt partner en route to a share of the MAAC regular season title with Siena.
“You come to any program to win,” said Ringgold. “We’re going down in history and you always want to remember a winner.”
Ringgold posted highlight performances on the biggest stages. He scored a career-high 24 points when Rider visited then third-ranked Pittsburgh on Dec. 4 and he had 21 points in the victory against Jarvis Varnado, NCAA’s all-time leading shot blocker, and Mississippi State last season.
Now, Ringgold is planning his future. The Philadelphia native is speaking to agents and is shooting for a professional career in another country, doing what he relishes most: playing the game of basketball.
“It’s looking good,” he said. “I’ll most likely end up overseas somewhere, doing what I love.”
Doing what he loves with a college degree.
NEXT WEEK: Patrick Mansell