Josue Rivera: Crowd pleaser

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He’s probably the first one you’ll notice at a BYU volleyball match. With his bright-colored shoes, high-flying plays and overflowing emotions, BYU’s Josue Rivera is fun to watch.

“Josue is an amazing athlete, but I think the most valuable thing he brings to the court is energy,” said teammate Devin Young.

The BYU men's volleyball team rushes the court after Josue Rivera's game-winning serve against UC Irvine. Photo by Ari Davis
The BYU men’s volleyball team rushes the court after Josue Rivera’s game-winning serve against UC Irvine. Photo by Ari Davis

At this year’s “Y” Awards, Rivera was a finalist in the “Crowd Pleaser” category. It’s not hard to see why. Rallying his team around him, the junior outside hitter’s wailing, fist-pumping, grimacing and rejoicing are a constant on the court.

“Josue brings a lot of competitive fire that’s hard to generate when he isn’t out there,” said teammate Jaylen Reyes.

Rivera’s effort and leadership back up his unrestrained passion. In an American culture of overstated elite athletes, Rivera is a crowd pleaser because of the fire and focus behind his energy. His loud play doesn’t come off as pretentious or boastful.

In fact, although Rivera’s whooping could be seen as self-serving, his vocal approach to volleyball helps his teammates. When the team is in a rut, it looks to Rivera to provide a boost. When the team is on a roll, Rivera’s infectious personality fuels the fire.

“He brings an unreal amount of energy that helps us play great through the entire match,” Young said.

In part, Rivera credits his culture for his style. A native of Puerto Rico, he said he embraces his people’s reputation of being expressive.

“We just get pumped and excited,” he said. “A lot of Puerto Ricans are like that.”

Although he knows many Puerto Ricans who are enthusiastic, Rivera said he thinks he got an extra dose of emotion. He considered himself too hyper to play baseball and too angry for basketball — adding that he often fouled out in basketball games as a young man.

“I’m kind of super emotional,” he said.

When asked how his teammates would describe him, Rivera first said “funny,” then followed with “crazy.”

For someone like Rivera, the culture of BYU and Provo was a change of pace.

“It was just too calm here for me at first,” he said. “It was the complete opposite of what I was used to.”

Although coming to BYU was an adjustment, Rivera said he has come to love his new home.

“It’s a different perspective here, but I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “I like BYU a lot.”

The son of professional volleyball players, Rivera has undoubtedly felt comfortable on the court for the Cougars. The third-year starter for BYU ranks second on the team in kills and aces, just behind Taylor Sander in both categories.

With one year of eligibility left, Rivera’s impact on the court will continue to be felt. Newcomers to volleyball matches will notice him first. After all, he’s Puerto Rican, super emotional and a star on the court — loud and proud.

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