Last week, Chris Rivera, our head football coach at Calvary Christian High School informed our team that he would not be returning to Calvary next year. It was a decision I had known about for several days, but when the news became public the reality that he would not be returning hit me full force. Calvary will lose a great part of our ministry and I will say good bye to a dear friend.
When Chris came to Calvary 4 years ago, from south Florida, he brought dreams of establishing a strong program over time. He was the first football coach in Calvary’s young history that was also a full-time member of our faculty. In Chris’ four years here he had the nearly impossible assignment of building a program without a home field, without a long standing tradition (we had only been playing football a brief time when he came) and often times without a wealth of talent. Yet, Chris dove into the job with the enthusiasm that he seems to possess for all of life and he made an indelible impact.
Chris cared about winning. He understands that competition is important and wining matters, (after all as one coach used to say, “that’s why they keep the score”). If you think that a competitive zeal and a spiritual testimony are incompatible check with some guy named Tebow!
But Chris also understood that some of the biggest wins can never be measured on a scoreboard or reported in a sports page. A coach has a certain power. Thousands of men will tell you today that it was some ball coach who impacted them the most. Lessons conveyed on an athletic field can sometimes go the deepest and last the longest.
I watched Chris Rivera impact young men over the last 5 years. He told them they were leaders and suddenly they were. He told them they could do great things and they tried and more than once we saw a moment where some young kid rose to a challenge and made a memory that will last a lifetime and perhaps learned a lesson that will last beyond even that.
Chris is moving on to another ministry chapter in his life. I have no doubt he will continue to impact others just as he did here. He and his beautiful family will be missed.
Our CCHS Administrator, David Kilgore, and our athletic director Greg Thiel are already working on finding the next leader to fill this vital role. I believe athletics is an indispensable part of a great school and at Calvary we dream of a school that excels in and out of the classroom. With our new Sports Ministry Complex coming (we pray in 2011) the future for CCHS athletics is so very bright. The next coach will build on the foundation that has been laid and will have the privilege of leading a team in the near future on a brand new home field for our church and our school. I have every confidence in David Kilgore and in Coach Thiel. They are already in the process of building an incredible staff of coaches, as fine as any school in Tampa Bay. They have made some great hires, some of which will be announced soon, and I ask you to join me in prayer for this decision as well as other crucial faculty hires.
Someday soon we will lift a trophy and celebrate victories. Someday soon the seeds that have been planted will become a harvest to be enjoyed. It is coming. When that day happens I’ll remember Chris Rivera as one who laid an excellent foundation and helped prepare the way.
In some distant day a man will remember lessons learned when he played football back at Calvary. It will affect the way he approaches life, runs a business, treat his family, nurtures his faith. He too will remember Chris Rivera as one of those good, godly men along the way who made a difference. Chris and Alicia, you will sure be missed. I wish I could adequately say thanks. I really can’t. Maybe it is enough to know that you made a difference because you really did.