Talented freshman ready for successful career at SF State

Freshman defender Valentina Riveros has been a star athlete since a young age, and continues to make her mark on the SF State women’s soccer team.

Riveros is one of the newest additions to SF State’s women’s soccer team. The skilled freshman has started five of the team’s first six games.

“For most freshman at this level, the biggest transition is learning how to compete and have that mentality every day,” head coach Tracy Hamm said. “But she came in with it. I don’t think it was much of adjustment; she knew what the role and expectations were coming in. She’s been fantastic.”

SF State Gators' freshman defender Valentina Riveros (18) jumps up to head the ball during their 2-2 double overtime tie against Dominican University of California at Cox Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.Kin Lee

SF State Gators’ freshman defender Valentina Riveros (18) jumps up to head the ball during their 2-2 double overtime tie against Dominican University of California at Cox Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.

Riveros’ soccer journey started early. She grew up watching her older brother play and  attributes her love of the sport to that.

“I wanted to follow in his footsteps; I would always go watch him play,” Riveros said. “He is the reason why I started to play.”

Now with Riveros in college, the tables have turned and it’s her brother’s turn to watch her play.

“We’re so fortunate to be able to see her play.  We go over all her games to see what she could improve on,” older brother Camilo Riveros said. “We always try to be honest with her, and she always takes it well and bounces back strong.”

Riveros was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to the United States when she was two years old. Being a Colombian-born soccer player is something she takes a lot of pride in.

“In my country women don’t really get the chance to play soccer much,” Riveros said. “To be able to come here to America and play and say I’m Colombian is an amazing honor. I 100 percent take pride in being Colombian.”

When Riveros was a sophomore in high school she had the chance to live out a dream. She was invited to play with the U17 Colombian National Team and said she learned a lot from that experience.

SF State Gators' freshman defender Valentina Riveros (18) runs down field during their 2-2 double overtime tie against Dominican University of California at Cox Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016. (Kin Lee/Xpress)Kin Lee

SF State Gators’ freshman defender Valentina Riveros (18) runs down field during their 2-2 double overtime tie against Dominican University of California at Cox Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016.

“It was amazing, every day we woke up and just played soccer,” Riveros said. “We had eight or nine coaches telling us what we needed to do. It was all about soccer, I learned so much.”

Riveros credits the jumpstart to her collegiate career to the coaching staff and veteran leadership at SF State.

“The staff here have been great at helping me. I was really nervous coming in as a freshman and everyone helped calm me down,” Riveros said. “My teammates really helped me make the jump from club soccer to college.”

Off the field, Riveros faces the same troubles that haunt most freshmen: adjusting to a college curriculum and campus life. Luckily, for Riveros, she has fellow freshman teammate Morgan Rhym to share the journey with.

“We met as new recruits, but she’s great, he’s always watching out for me and has my back,” Rhym said. “But on the field she is a beast; no nice girl. She gets it done.”

Riveros has many more years to make an impact on the program and coach Hamm is counting on her.
“She just needs to continue being consistent,” Hamm said. “She’s starting for us now so we have big expectations. She just has to keep making good decisions.”

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