Mike Riffee ’80, or Coach Riff as he’s known to many, loves The College of Wooster. His boys’ lacrosse team at Worthington Kilbourne near Columbus is used to hearing about the College frequently. “One of the most important things I learned at Wooster was the value of the connections we create in our lives’ experiences,” said Riffee. When the physical education alumnus learned about two seniors from Worthington who were headed to Wooster, he immediately wanted to reach out to them to extend that “Wooster connection.”
“I was surrounded by so many kind, generous, supportive, intelligent and loving people at Wooster. I’ve learned to honor and appreciate all of the unique qualities that each person who has come into my life has to offer,” said Riffee. Initially through Worthington’s Adopt a Senior program, Riffee reached out to two graduating seniors, Eli Cantrell and Eleanor Weiker, through Facebook and later sent them homemade dessert breads, Wooster gear, and MacLeod tartan facemasks that his wife made after the onset of the pandemic. “The Class of 2020 has missed out on so many of the great things that are special to their senior year. I wanted to let them know how proud we are of them!” Riffee said. Additionally, he reached out to their mothers. “As a parent of two grown children,” he explained. “I know the feelings of sending your child off to college. I was hoping that developing early Wooster connections would help to ease the transition into the next chapter of their lives.”
Since his own graduation from Wooster, Riffee has continued to be involved with the College alumni community by participating in a number of connection opportunities including the Student-Athlete Black and Gold Dinner, Fighting Scots Football Mentor Day, and the Alumni Board. As president of the Class of 1980, he thoroughly enjoys the annual Black and Gold Weekend celebration and planning for class reunions. He’s even written congratulatory letters to high school seniors who’ve been accepted to Wooster including Cantrell. “I was very excited when I learned that she had chosen Wooster,” he said.
Though retired from his career in teaching, Riffee found Wooster “greatly prepared me for my life as a teacher and a coach,” he said, noting the skills he developed in communicating and critical thinking, the appreciation he developed for lifelong learning, and finally the importance of building strong relationships. “I was able to master great interpersonal skills that have helped me to develop solid relationships with my peers, students, and athletes,” he said of the ability he’s working to pass on to incoming Wooster students like Cantrell and Weiker.