ST. PETERSBURG, FL — When Alanah Rivera steps onto the court, everyone knows she’s there.
“Her presence on the court is what makes the difference,” Boca Ciega volleyball head coach, Lauren Iovino said. “She may not be the yeller or the screamer, but they trust her and they play up to her.”
The captain has a quiet leadership, one that pushes her teammates to be better.
"I like to make sure everyone is reaching their fullest potential, when we step onto the court it’s not only me, but my teammates too,” Rivera said.
Coach Iovino says Rivera has a drive that separates her from other athletes.
"She just has all of the characteristics — she’s the most coachable person I’ve ever coached in 12 years,” Iovino said. "Very determined, very caring with her other athletes.”
It isn’t just in volleyball. Rivera is also Boca Ciega’s ace. Next fall, she’ll be attending the University of South Florida on a softball scholarship.
“Volleyball and softball have given me leadership skills and skills that I not only use on the field and on the court, but that I can use in life too,” said Rivera.
A dual-sport athlete with a heavy academic load, Rivera has a lot to balance. Her mom, Deanna Szura has seen the countless hours she has invested to reach her goals.
“She puts in hours at the gym, hours at practices, calls for lessons, always wants to work with coaches so she’s put in a lot of time and effort to get where she is today,” said Szura.
Rivera’s work ethic is second to none, which is evidenced by her athletic excellence and 4.4 GPA.
"She knows she’s had to always work for everything in her life so she puts that work in,” said Iovino. "Since I’ve had her as a freshman up until a senior, her GPA has always been a priority. She will do her homework on the bus, after the game, she’ll help tutor other athletes that are struggling.”
Helping others comes naturally to Rivera — it’s led her to pursue a career in sports medicine.
"I don’t think I would be able to ever get away from sports so being able to stay with the sports industry I think would be fun to help other athletes as well,” Rivera said.
To support her goals, Spectrum News has named Rivera as Pinellas County’s Scholar-Athlete and given her a $1,000 scholarship.
"It feels amazing to be able to accomplish that — just to know that all your hard work and effort that you put into sports helps and pays off,” Rivera said.
As she prepares for the next step in her athletic career, she keeps one thing in mind.
"I think a life lesson I’ve gained from sports is to be thankful for every opportunity you’re given because not everyone is able to play sports for many different reasons,” Rivera said.
And it’s playing for others that continues to be her biggest motivation.
"I want to be a role model that inspires others to reach their fullest potential and go after their goals with hard work and dedication,” Rivera said.