The Long County Blue Tide athletics program has a history of producing some pretty successful people once they leave Ludowici. The most recent person to add to his success is former Tide basketball and football standout Ricardo (Ricky) Rivera.
Rivera now teaches fourth grade math and coaches in the Mitchell County School System in Camilla, Georgia, the same place where former long-time Tide basketball coach Deshon Brock took the head football coaching and athletic director jobs after the 2016-17 school year. He was named head boys basketball coach last year and Saturday, he recorded his first career win with a 64-49 victory over Miller County High School.
“It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” Rivera said of his feelings after the win. “I was just a little nervous and didn’t want to fail my team or fans.”
Rivera played for the Blue Tide from 2006-2009 and during that time, he became one of the most prominent athletes in the school’s history both on the basketball court and the football field. His senior year in 2008, he set the state football record for the most receiving yards in a single game, but it was his play on the hardwood that led to his post-high school career.
After graduating in 2009, Rivera moved to play for junior college Middle Georgia College (now four-year university Middle Georgia State) in Cochran before transferring to be a two-sport athlete at Savannah State University and eventually to Voorhees College in Voorhees, South Carolina to finish his college career. He then made Long County history by becoming the first former athlete to play professionally by signing to play basketball in Colombia with Sabios de Manizales.
“It’s crazy that I went to three different colleges, but they all taught me how to grind. I was always taught if you don’t work, you don’t,” Rivera said. “Coming from all ‘small schools’ you’re already counted out because you’re not at schools that are always talked about which made me want to go even harder than the next man.”
Rivera was one of the most valuable pieces to the Blue Tide basketball team during his career as he helped lead the team to the Elite Eight of the AA state basketball playoffs in 2008. The team hasn’t advanced past the second round since.
He also talked about how he has a great support system that stays behind him no matter what may happen.
“God, of course. Without him, nothing is possible,” he said. “My wife always has my back, especially when I was in the transition of retiring from playing overseas and jumping into teaching and coaching. It was a tough decision, but it had to be done for my family.”Rivera made a huge impact during his time with the Blue Tide and now he is making an even bigger impact with the Mitchell County Eagles.