High school coach teaches life lessons through basketball

Coach Pierre Rivera teaches life lessons through sports and his students appreciate it. (Silver Apple is sponsored by Arizona Bank & Trust)
Published: May. 15, 2023 at 1:00 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Lessons at school come in all shapes and sizes, and for Coach Pierre Rivera at Coronado High School, the game of basketball allows him to give his players an unforgettable education.

In fact, Coach Rivera uses the game to help mold his young students and teach them life lessons he hopes they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Coach Rivera says his life’s motto is: “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

“So everything that these kids do on a day-to-day basis, we are giving them habits that are going to transcend everything they do,” the coach said. “So if they show up on time, and they give effort in one thing 100%? They’re going to give effort in every single thing they do.” Coach Rivera effectively uses sports to teach life lessons like these, and they indelibly mold and change his students. They’ve had such a profound impact that not one, but two students nominated Coach Rivera for a Silver Apple Award.

“I love the camaraderie with the kids,” says Rivera. “We build a family atmosphere, and that’s what (I) love about it.” Christopher Lopez-Jolly is one of the basketball players who nominated Coach Rivera. He read his nomination letter to his Coach as follows:

Coach Rivera, a P.E. teacher, basketball coach at Coronado High School not only deserves recognition for building the basketball team from the ground up but also because of the personal connections he’s created with the players. Opening the gym up for players on Sundays and staying hours after school to work with each of us, he encourages everyone to succeed not only in basketball but life as well. He holds us accountable...but he also makes us love basketball. And that’s what special teachers do.

Christopher Lopez-Jollly

Lopez-Jolly is nursing an injury right now and says Coach Rivera encourages him and makes him believe he will come back stronger and better than before. “Hard work and perseverance...even dealing with this injury right now, just having him on the team by my side, I know I can get back on the court soon,” the coach said.

Nolen Eifler is also a basketball player on the team who nominated Coach Rivera for the Silver Apple Award. “He’s always been there for me, and I’ve known him since about eighth grade,” Eifler said. “He’s always been there as a person, as well as a coach and a teacher. So I feel like he’s been a really good role model for me and taught me how to be a better man and not just a better basketball player.”

After hearing his players’ words, Coach Rivera could not help but be a little emotional. “It means it means the world...I love these two guys,” he said. “I love all my kids.” After the coach received the Silver Apple Award, Tony Hammond from Arizona Bank and Trust expressed a very personal appreciation for a teacher and coach like Rivera. “As a son of a school teacher myself, I played high school basketball, I know the impact that school teachers and coaches can have on individuals’ lives,” Hammond told Coach Rivera. “You’re doing all the things that are going to prepare all these young men and women for life, and that’s the most important thing.”

Hammond then presented him with a $1000 check as part of the Silver Apple Award. Coach Rivera’s wife who is also a teacher is pregnant, so the coach said the money will be going toward financial needs regarding his new baby’s birth. Coach Rivera has already invested so much into his other kids--his students--by preparing them for life.

In fact, Coach Rivera said he wishes he had stronger role models when he was younger, so now he tries to be the kind of coach he wishes he had growing up.