This article is a most thoughtful contribution by Eagle Rock High School Sports Hall of Fame President Gale Fullerton:
Whoever thought in the 1950s—or even the 1960s—that a volleyball player from Eagle Rock High would be inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. After all, in that era, volleyball did not exist as an official sport and few males even knew how to play it.
How times change. By 1997, volleyball had become a major sport and Andy Rivera was its king. The school gym was packed, the decibel level painful, and Andy, along with a talented lineup, dominated L.A. City and CIF opponents.
In the Northern League, they were undefeated, and Andy led the attack as the outside hitter, with a league high in kills and service aces. Some spectators reported that it was like watching a man competing against children. However, other Southern California teams may not have respected this record since Northeast L.A. was not a hotbed of volleyball talent or championship teams.
The media and volleyball fans had to reassess their thoughts when Eagle Rock plowed through all teams before routing Van Nuys in the City Finals. Andy's ER coach, Tim Park (class of ’91), says that Andy was by far the best ever to come out of the Northern League, and is right up there with some of L.A.’s greatest high school volleyball players ever.
In November 2012, Andy was inducted into the Eagle Rock Sports Hall of Fame. Click here to view our photo feature from that annual event.
What set Andy apart was not just his 42-inch vertical leap and aggressive swing speed. It was also his intense work ethic and leadership, which made everyone around him better. Andy was named L.A. City 3A Player of the Year on an undefeated team (17-0) and was also League MVP and 1st Team All City in 1996 and 1997.
Andy chose to attend UC Santa Barbara, and that school was more than pleased with his decision. At UCSB, he was named an NCAA Div.1 All-American in 2002, had 30 kills against UCLA in the NCAA Quarterfinals, set a school record for kill percentage in a match (10 for 10), and was named to the UCSB All Decade Team. Andy was also a gold medal winner as a member of the USA Men’s Volleyball Team at the 2001 World University Games in Beijing.
After graduation in 2002, Andy played professionally in Spain, where his team was a Spanish Premier League Finalist in 2004. With his professional playing days behind him, his college degree in economics has enabled him to have a successful career off the court as well. He currently works at Total Education Solutions, a national provider of specialized services to children and adults who have exceptional needs.
In most ER sports, there may be a debate over who was the best. But in volleyball, the “Reign of Rivera” has not even come close to being equaled, and Andy has clearly stood out as the supreme outside-hitting “Killer King.”