BROOKLYN, Ohio – I recently had the chance to sit down with Michele Rivera. She is the Assistant Varsity Coach for the Girls Softball team at Brooklyn High School. Not only is she passionate on the field coaching her players, but also a mother of two talented daughters who also excel on the diamond. Because of the great leadership from Rivera, she is teaching her players and her own children how to succeed on and off the diamond.
She was a Brian Sipe fan and a huge Browns fan in the Cardiac Kids era. She was also into competitive Karate while growing up in Cleveland. She remembers going to the old Indians stadium with her grandfather to games where they would pack sandwiches and he would bring his old thermos with stuff to drink.
She started out coaching 7th and 8th grade basketball. But her love has always been Softball. She began coaching at Rocky River High School in 2008. She also coached for the Cleveland RBI program then decided to get back into coaching in 2015.
Her daughter Daniele, is having a great Junior season at Brooklyn and has blossomed well in the sport, with her passion for it being one of her best assets. Daniele never played tee ball until her parents threw her into travel ball playing on a team when she was 6 yrs old the team was a 10u team. She was so small she could hardly hold a bat. They put her in the outfield so she would not get hurt.
Daniele played a very competitive schedule starting at age 8. She also played emerald necklace local and OGSO out in Lorain county. Daniele pitched her OGSO team to States when she was 10 yrs old. She has played very competitive softball for Jim Piazza who is the keystone High school coach and has won states several times. She played on a team out of Middletown and her parents would drive her 3 1/2 hours for practice.
She will now be playing for the Sun dogs out of Elyria for Jim Piazza again. She is currently verbally committed to play at Tennessee State University. This year she hit .644 and she has led the conference in multi game hit and stolen base games. She has also led the team in strikeouts and tied the pitcher from Keystone who is going to Iowa for wins.
Her family has traveled all over from California to Florida for softball. They are gone all summer for softball. Ball is life and it has paid off with two scholarships.
As mentioned, baseball runs in the family blood as older sister Jocelyn Rivera is 2013 Brooklyn Graduate
Jocelyn did started playing when she was 8 yrs old. She approached her Dad one day and said she wanted to pitch and that is where it all started. She began taking pitching lessons from Roger Black.
She played local rec ball and emerald necklace. She began playing travel ball when she was 10 yrs old. She then went to a very competitive travel ball team where she played for a former Ohio State catcher and learned a lot about the game. She also began taking hitting lessons from Bill Lilley who developed her into the hitter she is today.
Jocelyn then began playing for the Beverly Bandits. This is a one of the highest level competition teams around. The Bandits are based out of Chicago so the family traveled to Chicago 2 x a month for practice.
Jocelyn was then recruited by Ball State University where she played 2 yrs. They were Mac Conference champs and Mac tournaments champs. She transferred to University of Montevallo that started a new softball program where she will be attending again this fall as a Senior. and is studying sports psychology
Jocelyn pitched almost every game for the 4 yrs she attended Brooklyn, she received numerous awards All State, conference first team and conference MVP in 2013. She holds the strikeout record and did have the highest batting average until her younger sister broke that record as a freshman. Jocelyn should have received an award for being intentionally walked the most as well. Pitchers feared her!
Coach Rivera had this to say about the special chemistry of this year’s great team,
“This year’s team has come a long way, we have some new players that came up from JV and have played a major role in getting our team to where they are today. This year due to an injury, my daughter Daniele has had to do most of the pitching, she has pitched all the conference games besides one. The ironic thing is she is a short stop. She picks the ball up in February with the expectations to pitch 50 percent of the season as a pitcher and 50 percent as a short stop. This year she carried all the pitching on her shoulders.
We have a Senior come up this year Leigh Eperjese who has played JV for the past 3 years to catch and she has done an outstanding job. She stepped in a took total control of that position. And, you know the saying “a pitcher is only as good as their catcher.” We were very fortunate for Leigh this year.
Angel Damron, this girl has had 3 knee surgeries from Meniscus to ACL, nothing can keep her off the field we switched her back and forth from first and second and she played with a torn Meniscus. She is a pure power hitter.
We are going to miss Cydney Butler next year at 3rd she is amazing at taking away the bunts that most girls could not get too. Her leadership quality is one of her best attributes. She is also a pure hitter.
We have Sarah Coyne in Center field, Sarah rarely played as a freshman but worked very hard in the outfield and became such an outstanding player. Let alone at the plate she leads the county in RBI’s.
We have a lot of girls leading the County in every area, Daniele led in strikeouts, wins, Hits, Stolen Bases and runs scored. She led the conference in Mulit game hits, doubles, strikeouts and wins.
We have 4 girls all in the top of the conference as well as county in multiple categories. To have that many players in the top 10 is amazing . The only one that plays all year is my daughter Daniele. So for these girls to do so well when they only play 3 months out of the year is amazing. ”