Tenured Jacket

Forest Hills' Rivers being honored by state
Apr. 20, 2013 @ 02:09 PM

Eddie "Pop" Rivers has worn a lot of hats at Forest Hills HIgh over the last three decades.

Rivers has spent the last 29 seasons as the head coach of Forest Hills' softball team, making him the longest-tenured head coach in Union County.

The 56-year-old Rivers, who led the FH softball team to a state championship appearance in the 1995 season, has also served as the head girls basketball coach the last three years, and was the offensive coordinator for the varsity football team for 18 seasons.

Earlier this week, Rivers was recognized for his lengthy career when he was named the Tony Webb Coach of the Year by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

To be eligible for the award, a coach must be nominated by his school, coached for a minimum of 10 years, and have made contributions to the success of high school athletics and the community.

Rivers will be recognized at the NCHSAA’s Annual Meeting on May 2 at the Smith Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

"It's a huge award," said Rivers. "When you help kids for 29 years at the same school, it's rewarding to be recognized like this."

Rivers has spent his entire coaching career at Forest Hills and said he's never had the urge to move on.

"I'm just happy where I'm at," said Rivers. "I love the school, love the community and love the people I work with. It's just one of those things where I've never looked to go anywhere else. I've had offers to go to different places, but I enjoy being here."

Rivers was inducted into the N.C. High School Softball Coaches' Association Hall of Fame in 2010. He was instrumental in the development of the NCHSSCA and served as president of the organization from 2004-10.

Warren Taylor, Forest Hills' athletic director the last four years, isn't surprised by the honor.

"Obviously, from his nomination and selection, Eddie is well-respected state-wide for his work and dedication to girls' softball over the past three decades," said Taylor. "He has also been an integral part of his church and is active and respected in this community.

"Without question, he has touched many students' lives, not only through the various sports he has coached at Forest Hills, but also through the classroom and extra-curricular activities. I think this award is a testament to his dedication to student athletes and a culmination of respect for his 29 years of service to high school athletics."

Rivers has had the pleasure of coaching his two daughters, Kimberly and Katie.

Kimberly, a senior, plays varsity volleyball, basketball and softball. Katie, a junior, is a member of the varsity volleyball team.

Kimberly currenty ranks second on the softball team with a .421 average and 15 runs scored.

Rivers admits "it's difficult at times" to coach his daughters, but said he "wouldn't trade it for the world."

"Sometimes it's hard to separate school from home," said Rivers of coaching his daughters. "If one of them has a bad day at the plate or they didn't get the spike they needed in volleyball they hear it from me and that's not good. But 98 percent of the time it's just been wonderful to spend the time with my daughters every day."

Rivers remains vague about retiring as a coach, but admits it will be difficult when the time comes.

"I don't know what I'm going to do," said Rivers of his future. "I might look to work somewhere else and see what options I have. I'll just have to see what else is out there. It's going to be difficult when the time comes, especially with softball because it's a program that's been mine since it started. I'm going to have to give that a lot of thought and make sure the program's left in good hands."