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Remembering Darren Richie

Athletes wear their jersey in honor of Darren Richie. (Photo courtesy of Richie family)

December 11, 2023

By Bob Holmes, CIU Senior Writer

Looking down from the balcony of Columbia International University’s Shortess Chapel, you might think you were observing a gathering of CIU athletic teams ready for a motivational talk before the big game.

From above you could see the baseball team in their pinstripes. Nearby were the blue and gold of the men’s basketball team. In walked the women’s volleyball team in their blue warm-up suits. The CIU Rams 13 teams were represented along with their coaches.

But there were no rally cries. Instead, quiet reflection on the life of their leader.

CIU Athletics Director Darren Richie, was represented on the stage by a photo of him and the wide toothy grin he was known for around campus. The teams gathered “In loving memory of Darren Anthony Richie,” who contracted bacterial meningitis while supporting the women’s soccer team on a tournament trip in Florida just a couple weeks prior. He passed away on Dec. 1 at age 58.

Among those sharing memories of Richie was CIU Women’s Head Soccer Coach Kara Lail who said that Richie demanded more out of the coaches, “so we would demand more out of our athletes, so out of that we could do more to impact the Kingdom together.”

Lail went on to say that Richie “loved to love others” and was passionate about using athletics to spread the gospel, scheduling team mission trips to Costa Rica. But not before a spiritual retreat for all athletes prior to a new school year.

“He believed that the retreat was the perfect way to get our athletes hearts and minds on Jesus prior to starting the school year,” Lail said. “In the most recent CIU retreat, 30 athletes gave their lives or recommitted their lives to Christ.”

That priority was verified by CIU Interim President Dr. Rick Christman who said that in Richie’s three-and-a-half years as CIU’s athletics director, the spiritual retreat was a budget priority.

“It was not a luxury in his mind,” Christman said. “This was an imperative necessity. Regardless of anything else we planned to do in a given year, this was going to happen, and he would make it happen.”

Memories of Darren Richie “The Family Man” were shared by his wife Claire, five daughters and extended family members. Many of the stories were light-hearted and funny. But they also described him as a “problem solver,” “larger than life,” and “the center of the extended family.”

Looking out over the athletes, coaches and CIU faculty and staff, Mrs. Richie added, “I am so grateful for every single one of you, and how much you loved Darren.”

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