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Rivas goes anywhere to help Vikings

Shortstop David Rivas is now helping Northeast at pitcher and in center field. JOE KAPP / CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Many kids dream of becoming a starting shortstop for their high school baseball team.

David Rivas earned that spot.

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Then he gave it away.

He did it because it aligned with his only goal for his senior year at Northeast High School.

“To be honest, I’m comfortable anywhere and we had a player who was great who could play shortstop,” said Rivas, who plays shortstop, center field and also pitches for the Vikings. “I’ve been playing shortstop forever, but it’s my last year and it’s not about anything but winning. If I have to give up a position to win, I’ll do it.

“This year isn’t about anything but winning. I just want to win.”

And Rivas is doing everything he can to make sure the Vikings are in position to improve every time they take the field.

It hasn’t been easy thus far. Northeast is back under the tutelage of Tom Juhas, who returns as coach after taking a few years off.

And while the team lacks experience, Rivas is doing whatever he can to help the younger guys. It hasn’t been a hard job, and it’s one he enjoys.

“I think because I’ve been a starter since my freshman year, a lot of the guys know I know what we have to do,” said Rivas, who lives in Juniata. “I think some look at me as a coach almost, and I love that. I love helping them. I know the only way to get better is to play, get experience, and if I can help them with things, I’m happy to do it.”

Rivas has grown into the leadership role, but he’s been mature since entering Northeast.

Coming into his freshman year, he had never played any position other than shortstop. That’s a position he grew up playing in Hunting Park. 

But when he got to Northeast, the Vikings had an All-Public quality shortstop returning in Chris Castro. 

His options were to ride the pine or learn center field.

It didn’t take a long time to figure out what he wanted to do.

“I never played outfield before my freshman year, but it was the only way to get in the game,” Rivas said. “Now I’m comfortable anywhere. I’m really glad I played outfield (freshman year) because now I’m comfortable there. Pretty much anything up the middle.

“I like positions where I can take charge. I can help everyone. I get a great view at both positions, so I’m able to read the ball. I like being able to see the ball and go get it. I always go for it. I always tell the guys playing next to me, you gotta call it because if not, I’m going for it. We’re getting used to each other so it’s not bad.”

Northeast isn’t where Rivas wants it to be.

The Vikings are 3-5 overall, 1-3 in Public League play, but a lot of that should be expected. A young team and a new coach will take time to figure things out.

Rivas isn’t happy things aren’t perfect, but he’s happy with what his teammates are doing to get better and he believes the second half of the season will be when Northeast will be playing its best baseball of the year.

As long as everyone keeps working.

“The best part about this team is everyone wants to win, that’s all anyone cares about,” Rivas said. “I just want to win, but so does everyone else. That makes it fun. We all have the same goals, and people are getting better. That’s why I’ll go wherever they need me if it helps us win.”

Rivas has the same attitude with his family.

He’s an uncle to four nieces, three nephews, and he shares a special bond with each of them. But one of them reminds him of another kid who loves baseball.

“My sister is in the Navy, so two of my nieces are in San Diego, and I love seeing them when they’re here,” Rivas said. “I’m close with them, and I’m very close with the other ones. I see them all the time. Family is very important to me.

“My one nephew, he’s the athlete of them all. He loves playing video games involving sports. And he loves baseball. If not baseball, he’s playing football. He loves sports a lot.”

Just like his uncle.

“If I’m doing something, it’s probably involving sports,” Rivas said. “I love baseball, that’s my favorite sport, but I played everything growing up. If I’m not playing baseball, I’m probably watching it or talking about it.”

That’s why this isn’t his final year playing.

Next year, Rivas hopes to continue his baseball career while getting an education. After discussions with his adviser and also his mom, he’s leaning toward business management. 

“I’m hoping to play college baseball,” Rivas said. “I’d love to play shortstop, but honestly, anything up the middle. I’ll play center field, second base, shortstop. I’ll play anywhere. If I get a chance to play, I’ll play anywhere. And I’ve been told because I can play a lot of positions, it might help me. If I can get on the field, I’ll do it.”

It worked at Northeast.

And things there are perfect.

“I love this team because so many of the guys I’ve known for a while, either by playing with them other places or playing with their brothers,” Rivas said. “I hope we can have a great season. We’re working and having fun, but I want to win.”

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