By LaTrina AntoineFebruary 28, 2011
Sgt. Angel Rivera, administrator for Headquarters Command Battalion, was selected to be the assistant coach for the All-Army Volleyball team.
Rivera acknowledged that his love for the sport is with out bounds. He mentioned that his father hated volleyball. ''I don't know if that pushed me to be more into volleyball."
In middle school and high school he hid the fact that he played volleyball from his Family, Rivera said. ''Volleyball was something that was the most natural," he said.
Rivera's secret was revealed by a teacher who contacted his Family about him playing in a tournament. He remembers his father saying that it looked as if he was a good player. ''You can be good in one sport, but not in them all," he remembered his father saying.
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Rivera began playing volleyball in the eighth grade. Although he played other sports, it was the only sport that made him feel accepted he said. Rivera played volleyball in middle school, high school, college and when he was stationed in Korea.
When Rivera moved to the area in 2008 he started coaching children ages 12 to 18 for a nonprofit club in Northern Virginia. His team won the regional tournament during his first year of coaching. They were also recognized as being second in the region, Rivera said.
After his first year, Rivera was given the opportunity to coach for the select division of the club. ''In the select division you get first pick of the players," he said. ''The main goal for the club season is to prepare the kids for the high school season," Rivera said.
Last year, Rivera began coaching at Thomas Edison High School in Alexandria. He is the head coach for the junior varsity team, and the assistant coach for the varsity team. The club and high school keep him busy year round because the seasons follow after each other. The volleyball season for the club started in November with tryouts, and then practices started in December and January. The season for the club lasts until June if the team qualifies for nationals. His high school teams' season extended from August through November.
''I have to be two hours with my team and then I have to assist with the varsity team. It's approximately four hours, it's like a part time job," he said. In what already seems a full schedule, Rivera is adding on duties with the All-Army Volleyball team. To have time for the All-Army competitions, he is temporarily handing his club team over to Maj. Jose Gonzalez, an active Guard and Reserve officer, from March 13, the beginning of the trial camp, until tentatively April 16. The trial camp will be held at Fort Bragg, N.C. For Rivera, volleyball began as a childhood sport, but it changed into a hobby that brings him fulfillment as he coaches the youth in not just volleyball but also life. ''I feel that they are lucky. All the things that they have right now, I never really had ... to see kids from one season to the other improving. I'm not coaching just because I want my kids to become professionals, but so they will be better athletes and better people," Rivera said.