When most students get sick of doing their homework, they want to hit their head on the nearest object until they felt better. When senior linebacker Alex Vigil wants to vent his academic frustration, he can hurl his 6’1″, 215 lb at the opposing quarterback. Vigil, a fifth-year senior and team captain, has watched and helped guide the football team as the Orediggers have risen from a squad that went 7-5 in his first year to one that has won 21 of its last 25 games and advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament in 2010.
Over the past three years, Vigil has played in 37 of 39 games, missing only two games due to injuries. In 2010, Vigil led the RMAC in fumble recoveries where he was sixth in the nation among all Division II athletes. As a junior in 2009, he led the RMAC in solo tackles with 45. He has been named the CSM newcomer of the year and awarded First Team All-RMAC, Second Team All-RMAC, and Preseason All-RMAC honors.
Amidst all the statistical accomplishments, though, Vigil’s main contribution is his intangible ability to make a play when the pressure is on. When the game is on the line or during a critical down, Vigil has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and coming up with a big play in the clutch. His leadership and hard work has helped to guide the Orediggers as they fight to defend their RMAC title. For his successes, and perseverance throughout his career as an Oredigger, Vigil is this week’s Athlete of the Week.
[Oredigger] Why did you come to Mines?
[Vigil] Mines offers a different opportunity than other schools. It’s a great school and it’s a great education. I wanted to go somewhere where I could have more than just football.
How did you start playing football and how did you end up playing defense?
I’ve played since I was eight. I played other sports, but really liked football. My older brother told me that if I wanted to be tough, I should play football. I just like playing defense. On defense, I guess I just like hitting people. And I liked how they always say that defense wins championships.
How is playing as a senior different than other years?
It’s kind of mix of happy and sad emotions. I have some of my best friends on the team, but I definitely won’t miss the morning runs or the all-nighters doing homework. Being a senior kind of gives you a now or never mindset. As our coach likes to say, you can play old-man soccer or old-man softball, but you’ll never be able to put on the pads again.
What do you love about playing football?
Game day. It’s kind of a relax from people. You get to hit people on Saturdays and take out some of your frustration.
What is your favorite play or game-situation as a defender?
Probably fourth and short or on third down when coach calls a blitz. It’s an all-out mindset. As an
outside linebacker, my favorite thing is to blitz.
What has it been like to see the program improve over your career?
It’s great to start to build a tradition at this school where people expect to win and expect to beat certain teams and be a national contender each year.
What has Mines taught you over your five years?
Everyone talks about how tough Mines is, but no one really knows what it’s like until they go here. It definitely forces you to learn time management and skills that you don’t get anywhere else.
What are your favorite NFL and NCAA football teams?
I still like CU even though they don’t win very much. And the [Denver] Broncos, I have to go stay with the home team.
What has been your least favorite class?
Oh, freshman chemistry. That class was crazy. Every test we had was like, a 40% average.
What is your favorite part about the football team?
Football is kind of its own frat. Every Saturday, everyone is in the same place, and we’re all doing the same thing. When we’re freshman, our coach tells us to “Look around, these will be your best friends in life.”
As a senior what advice would you give incoming students?
A lot of kids quit, but even when it’s tough, it’s worth it. Stick with it, ’cause these will be some of the best times of your life.