Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the week: North Rockland's Naya Rivera

This week's Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete persevered through a lot to get back on the field for the 2016 soccer season

Name: Naya Rivera

School: North Rockland High School

Class: Senior

Sport: Girls soccer

Athletic accomplishments: Rivera has five goals and six assists for the season. She’s a two-time Class AA state finalist, regional champion, and Section 1 champion in soccer. She’s a four-year varsity player.

Academic accomplishments: Rivera has a 98.83 GPA. She has not decided where she wants to attend college. She’s taken AP European history, American history, English and Spanish. She’s been on the Principal’s List every quarter. She’s a member of the National Honor Society, Science Honor Society, World Language Honor Society and Mu Alpha Theta. Rivera’s won both the Black Achievement and Hispanic Achievement awards.

School and community involvement: At North Rockland, Rivera’s a member of Varsity Athletes Against Substance Abuse and Peer Mediation.

Getting to know Naya Rivera

The Journal News: How’s the season going for you?

Naya Rivera: For me, it’s going well. It took a little while to get back into the swing of things coming back from the knee injury. But when I did and in the last couple of games, I feel so much better. I feel quicker, my touch is so much better.

TJN: How long were you out of commission?

NR: It happened on October 14th of last year. Then I had surgery on November 9th of last year. I returned to the game on about September 7th, so I was out for about 10 months.

TJN: How tough was it to sit on the sidelines and watch?

NR: It was tough. I”ve always been playing. I’ve never been one to sit on the side and watch. Having to sit on the bench and watch was difficult but I told myself I’d do what I can for my team, whether it’s coaching/giving them advice, whatever I needed to do. I said that’s what I need to do.

TJN: How hard was the rehab?

NR: It was hard because it’s such a long process. It’s not one of those injuries where you break a bone and you’re out 2-4 weeks, you’re on crutches, then suddenly you can walk again. It’s a process. You have to teach yourself how to walk again, you can barely stand at one point.

TJN: Did being able to persevere through the injury teach you something you didn’t know about yourself?

NR: I did and I wrote my college essay on it. I think it changed me. I think it made me a better person. It made me stronger. It made me realize this is what you can do. This is what you’re capable of and I’m just following through with that.

TJN: When it comes to college next year, do you know if you want to continue playing soccer?

NR: I would definitely like to play next year; where that would be I don’t know yet.

TJN: What do you want to study?

NR: I do know I want to major in biology and minor in psychology.

TJN: What have you liked about your time as a member of V.A.A.S.A.?

NR: That’s my favorite club and it’s my favorite piece of community service work I do. I’m sociable and I like to talk to people, especially those young kids who are still in that stage of being molded. They have so much in front of them. They have ways to go down the wrong path and ways to go down a good path. Showing them what can happen if you stay down the right path — avoiding illegal drugs, avoiding alcohol, avoiding all these distractions. There’s a lot of distractions in high school and showing them that you don’t have to take this route, you can take this one and do so many more great things. You can do so much better for yourself. That’s why this club is really meaningful for me.

TJN: What’s it like when you talk to the seventh- and eighth-graders?

NR: The teachers exit the room and the kids really talk to you. Seeing what they’re exposed to at such a young age is kind of crazy. Even if you don’t affect everyone in the room, knowing that you have the opportunity to maybe change the way one of those kids think or five of those kids think is extremely meaningful.

TJN: How many times have people asked you about actress Naya Rivera?

NR: All the time. I walk into Barnes and Noble and they ask me if that’s my real name. I answer, yes, it’s my real name, and then they ask if I was named after her. I wasn’t, it was just a coincidence. I love my name so, yeah, it’s cool.

The Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the Week program honors students for their academic, athletic and community achievements. Each week a winner is selected from nominees submitted by athletic directors. Only seniors can be nominated, and the award can be won only once. Nominations must be received by 5 p.m. Monday. The presenting sponsor for The Journal News Rockland Scholar-Athlete program is Gary Goldberg Financial Services.

Debbie Schechter

Twitter: @LoHud_Debbie

North Rockland’s Naya Rivera, shown in a Class AA regional final against Monroe-Woodbury in 2014, is the Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the Week.

North Rockland’s Naya Rivera, shown in a Class AA regional final against Monroe-Woodbury in 2014, is the Rockland Scholar-Athlete of the Week.