Rochester’s Luis Rivera getting comfortable as the center of attention

Luis Rivera

Luis Rivera knows that his fellow throwers, especially young ones, do not get the attention they deserve. He is making sure they get as much as he can give himself.

Think about the guys that work at Lululemon and what they look like. Now think about a guy that has a sponsorship deal with a botanical skincare and health products company. Go ahead and combine the two guys into one.

Be honest. The man you are imagining probably does not look much like Luis Rivera, or any thrower for that matter.

Then again, many people do not know what any thrower looks like until one walks among them.

“I get a lot of blank faces, most of the time,” Luis Rivera said. “At my first day at Excellus, the person who hired me composed an e-mail with details about the sport that I did and how I was a 4-time All-American and 1-time national champion. Regular first day, you walk around the office and meet the executives and the people who work there. Some people went on the Nazareth website to learn about it and see what it’s like.

Luis Rivera knows that being the center of attention is, unfortunately, not part of the job as a thrower. But he also knows that it needs to be. After overcoming his own aversion to attention, he is now setting the example for others – throwers and otherwise – to step into the limelight.

“At first I did not like the attention because I was that freshman who was awkward,” Rivera said. “I didn’t have throwing shoes, forget to step out through the back of the circle so I got fouled. You don’t really want attention on you when you’re not doing so well.”

“But once I started doing better I started to appreciate those moments and I wanted people to look at me. I wanted to be the center of attention. Not for myself, but to prove that you can be that guy who doesn’t know what he’s doing and turn out to be the guy that everyone is looking at.”

Rivera is through to the other side of that set up. He is the Division III national champion, the four-time all-American. He is the thrower who the thrower he once was looks up to, and he knows what he needs to do.

Every time I go to meet and I see a freshman who you can tell is passionate about the sport and wants to do very very well, I always make sure that I show that his throw is as important as my throw. That his effort is as important as my effort. I believe that everyone should be given the same enthusiasm and the same cheers whether you’re at the elite level or a beginner level.

Passion, enthusiasm and cheers for the throws at a youth or college track meet? Luis Rivera has no problem flying solo. If the rest of the audience does not want to get behind the kid in the circle, that’s on them, not Rivera.

“I’m completely cool with being the only one. I’ve gotten plenty of crazy looks, and I’m OK with it. Sometimes it catches fire, and people catch on to it. It’s a comfort thing.”