In the moments before the opening pitch of the game in which the Riverview High School Sharks softball team took on Jefferson High School, head coach Angela Slater organized her team into an honor guard of sorts, to recognize a current player, two past players and a near-lifetime participant in the team, her own son Cody. In the process, the coach took the first steps in creating a Softball Alumni Association in the hopes that players of the past can impact Riverview’s players of the future. The first two alumni chosen certainly exemplify success.
The ceremony began honoring senior infielder Joselyn Rivera. Rivera is graduating with a 3.7 grade point average and plans to pursue a degree in social services.
“This by far is my favorite of all four years. I made really great friendships,” Rivera said, referring to her teammates. “You guys have helped me out in my worst times and been there for me in my best times.”
She also thanked Coach Slater and her husband Ronald.
“Mr. and Mrs. Slater, I have to give a big thanks to you both for giving me the opportunity to be on this team these four years. It’s been wonderful to be part of 500 wins beginning with the district title last year hopefully we will bring home another one this year.”
She ended with thanking friends and her family.
“My Mom is my number one fan and will always be there and my Dad is my biggest supporter through everything. Thank you both for being here through my journey playing ball and through life. I owe you both so much more than what I could ever give you. I love you more than words can say.”
Alumni Adrienne Clark and Beth DiPietro had been invited to the ceremony and the game but they had no idea they were about to be included in it. Both were singled out for special honors and are the first names to be added to the outfield “Alumni Alley” which will recognize distinguished alumni.
Clark is a 2001 graduate of Riverview High School, a 2005 graduate of Hofstra University and received her Master’s Degree from Columbia University in 2012. In addition to being one of the first names added to Alumni Alley, the team’s locker room has officially been renamed as “Clark’s Castle” in recognition of her success on the team, her continuing success in life and her and her family’s unwavering support of Shark Softball.
Joining Clark in being the first admitted to Alumni Alley was 2003 graduate Beth DiPietro. In addition, the team’s bullpen has been officially renamed as “Beth’s Bullpen” in recognition of her many accomplishments on the team as well as in her life post-high school. DiPietro, who graduated from Auburn University, still holds the Hillsborough County record for strikeouts in a single season and was chosen as the Florida Gatorade Player of the Year in 2003. An inductee in Riverview High School’s Wall of Fame, she currently holds all pitching records at the school.
Finally, Coach Slater took a moment to recognize the near-lifetime contribution of her son Cody to the team, beginning from the age of three, when he was known as the “Dugout Bandit” for sneaking away with snacks and goodies from the players to spending countless hours working as the official scorekeeper and occasional game announcer.