When you ask Taryn Christion, a lead event specialist at the Sanford Pentagon, what Sanford Sports has done for him, he can tell you about an association that began when he was a teenager.
To this day, Christion, a 25-year-old former Sioux Falls Roosevelt athlete who went on to stardom at quarterback for South Dakota State, remains grateful for a connection that progressively delivered expertise as he advanced as an athlete.
“I’m so thankful for everything Sanford as done for me,” Christion said. “To go from Sanford helping me to becoming part of an effort that helps other kids is great. All the experiences I’ve had I can bring to our events team.”
Recently Sanford Health’s sports-related facilities, programs and services have been rebranded as Sanford Sports to better serve a growing base of athletes, families, sports fans and communities.
Individual workouts and injury recovery
Within his own time in sports, Christion went from trying to be good enough to play for the high school varsity teams to good enough to play professionally. In that climb, he benefited from what is now Sanford Sports both as an athlete seeking to get better at what he does and an athlete trying to get back to full speed after injuries.
“My sophomore year of high school I started doing individual workouts with Kurtiss Riggs at the fieldhouse,” Christion said. “We worked on throwing and footwork and drills — anything that was going to make me a better athlete as a quarterback.”
Riggs is coordinator of football programming within the Sanford Sports Academy, operating out of the Sanford Fieldhouse in Sioux Falls. At the time Christion got involved, the football wing of Sanford Sports was in its infancy under Riggs, a former University of Sioux Falls quarterback who has coached the Sioux Falls Storm, Sioux Falls’ professional indoor football team, for almost two decades.
The unified academy under Sanford’s direction now includes opportunities to improve in seven different sports in addition to football. For Christion personally, though it started with wanting to get better at football, it quickly branched off into other areas of Sanford expertise.
It continued with Sanford Sports Performance (Sanford POWER at the time) staff working with Roosevelt Rough Riders athletes. It also included Sanford certified athletic trainers aiding Christion when he dislocated his foot and broke his fibula during his senior season. That injury ended his high school football career prematurely, but he was back up to 100% before winter set in.
“I started working with Sanford athletic trainer Scott Roggenbuck right after my surgery,” Christion said. “This was after I had my surgery done at Sanford. Working with Scott was great. He helped me get back to my normal self during basketball that year.”
From college to the pros
Christion moved on to SDSU, where the Sanford sports medicine team is part of all Jackrabbits athletic programs. He was cared for well enough there to set just about every significant record associated with quarterbacks at the school.
It included taking a sweat test when leg cramps became a problem. He also completed performance testing with the Sanford Sports staff. This took place while prepping for a career as a professional that included a series of NFL tryouts, most notably with the Dallas Cowboys, and a stint with Ottawa in the Canadian Football League.
So where do you go when it’s time to start a career after pro football? For Christion, he had a pretty good idea.
When COVID-19 cancelled the CFL season in 2020, Christion was serving as a corporate fellow within Sanford. As such he got a close look at Sanford’s operations at several levels. It gave him a glimpse of the scope of Sanford Sports, but also the distinctive level of commitment.
“I got to follow Sanford Sports President Steve Young for a week and hear about his vision for the role of the sports complex,” Christion said. “I got a sense for how he wants it to impact the community and the athletes and everybody else who would be coming to the sports complex.”
Now when Christion participates in Sanford Sports staff meetings the “they” is replaced by “we.” He is part of the team.
“It’s been awesome for me,” he said. “We want this place to be where kids of all ages, demographics and backgrounds can come and play sports, have fun — just be active. It’s very cool to see it happen.”
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