Inside the life of student-athlete Crystal Rivas

To be a student-athlete at Guilford College comes with a lot of responsibility on and off the field. Student athletes are expected to perform well on the field and in the classroom.

Crystal Rivas, a junior forward on the women’s soccer team, is a great example of what it means to excel on and off the pitch. Having scored eight goals and two assists in 11 games, Rivas has helped  the Quakers enjoy one of their finest seasons to date. She explained what being a student-athlete at Guilford College means to her.

“Playing for Guilford College has helped me manage my timing as an athlete as well as a motivation to be a good scholar, not just an athlete,” Rivas said. “Being a student-athlete to me is a student who has to set boundaries for outsiders. It is not easy being a student-athlete but it has its pros and cons.”

Prior to playing at Guilford, Rivas played at Carolina Bruins University and was an all-conference player at Harding University High School. Transferring from one school to another has its difficulties—adjusting to the level of play is one thing, but Rivas also had to adjust to Guilford’s speed of play while coming out of an ACL injury. 

“It took a lot of effort, sweat, tears, dedication and determination to earn the spot I worked so hard for. The whole process was a big step,” Rivas said.

Coming from a tough injury and having to earn your spot on the team is no easy job, which is why Rivas has had to step up to the plate this season under difficult circumstances such as playing in the midst of a global pandemic and a recent change in the coaching staff.

Rivas described what playing under established coach Justin Maulin, who was previously the head coach for the UNCG men’s soccer team for nine years, has done to the overall team culture.

“Coach Justin(‘s) expertise from a higher level has given us as a team the push that we needed, from discipline to fitness and seeing the game differently,” said Rivas. “His coaching, love for the game and the way he is able to teach us and adapt to the team he walked into disregarding our previous season is the best thing that has happened to the (Guilford women’s) soccer team.”

Maulin’s coaching skills are evident in terms of results this season, as the team is 7-3-1 in overall regular season play (1-2-1 conference play).

Having to transition from the pandemic season of spring 2021 to this year’s fall season has impacted many players’ ability to connect on and off the playing field, but Rivas has an optimistic outlook regarding the issues that come with competing in a complicated time. 

Although Rivas is enjoying a fine season statistically, she remains humble and driven. When asked whether she feels that she is a leader on the team due to her performances on the pitch, Rivas said: “I believe everyone’s contribution has a big impact on my finishing goals. There are certain times where a lot of pressure is thrown on me because of my leading goals. I am a player that always seems to find a way to keep her head up until the last whistle is blown and I try to talk to my teammates throughout the game to keep their heads up.

Even if a game seems out of reach, Rivas continues to fight for her teammates, demonstrating her strong leadership skills. The team’s next test will be Oct. 16, when they take on Shenandoah in Winchester, Virginia.