Rivas excels on Vashon football team
By Savannah Butcher, Reporter
Senior Richard Rivas plays running back, linebacker and kicker on the school football team. Rivas has been incredibly successful while also juggling soccer and wrestling. He has grown into a valuable player and a great leader, and may be looking into playing football in college.
Rivas joined the high school’s football team late in the season of his freshman year.
“I wasn’t [hesitant to join] but my mom was, so that was why I started pretty late,” Rivas said.
Rivas’s friends initially encouraged him to join the high school team, and he found the coaches to be very helpful.
“I joined late freshman year and it has made me a better person having coaches that push me to work harder,” he said.
Rivas began his football career playing on the McMurray team and considered the transition to high school fairly easy.
“I knew most of the kids already because they would go over to the middle school games and watch me play so I would talk to them a lot,” Rivas said.
Rivas played on the McMurray football team for two years before coming to the high school.
“McMurray [football] was pretty easy and we weren’t really as united as we are now, because everyone’s just a lot closer,” Rivas said.
Rivas thinks this community is a strength for the team.
“The unity and connection is way better on this team than any other I’ve been a part of,” Rivas said.
Head coach Clay Eastly has helped bring the team together by encouraging players to socialize off the field.
“Coach was telling us that to be a successful team, you need to get along and you need to spend a lot of time out of class, out of school, and out of practice hanging out and socializing,” Rivas said.
Eastly has known Rivas since he joined as a freshman in 2016, and has been coaching football for 20 years, six of which have been at the high school.
“Richard is Richard, and he’s more of a leader — more of a vocal leader as he’s gotten older — but he’s always had the traits that he has now,” Eastly said.
Rivas and Eastly’s relationship has developed a lot over the last four years.
“I’ve gotten really close with my head coach, Clay, just because I’ve been around him for a long time already and he always likes to make sure everyone’s alright and everyone’s healthy,” Rivas said.
Eastly echoes these statements.
“I think [Rivas and I] have a great relationship,” Eastly said. “Who could not like Richard, right? He’s just a joy to coach.”
Rivas believes the bonds in the team to be one of their strongpoints.
“I feel like everyone’s a lot closer [this year] and we have seniors that are good leaders like Jack [Cunningham] and Riley [Heryford]. They’re all nice and … we just don’t really leave anyone out; everyone’s connected and everyone works together a lot better,” Rivas said.
Rivas has many valuable qualities that he brings to the game.
“Obviously he’s a really good player, so he brings that to the team,” Eastly said. “Just his smile. He’s always in a good mood, [and he provides] good leadership.”
Eastly has seen Rivas grow over his four years at the high school.
“I think he’s taking the game more seriously,” Eastly said. “He practices hard on his kicking skills, and he’s going to camp for a running back.”
Rivas is hoping to pursue football in his future, a goal supported by Eastly.
“He [said he] would probably like to try and play in college,” Eastly said. “Keep kicking, I think that’s his real chance at college football.”
Since this is Rivas’s last year on the team, there are still some questions of which leaders will step up next year to fill his shoes.
“I think his teammates all love him, and I think the younger guys will be sad to see him leave. [It will be] a leadership void for sure,” Eastly said. “His smile, his great attitude, his humbleness, all of those attributes helps keep the team on an even keel.”