FGCU’s ‘Grandpa’ back to impart wisdom, slug homers

Nick Rivera

FORT MYERS, Fla. Nick Rivera’s bad break came at a fortunate time.

A fractured wrist ended the Florida Gulf Coast University first baseman’s 2016 season 17 games in. Had he played any longer, he wouldn’t have been able to redshirt and come back for this season.

Now the fifth-year senior, known around the Eagles clubhouse as “Grandpa,” is inflicting pain on baseballs and opposing pitchers. He leads FGCU with 10 home runs, seven more than anyone else on the team.

“I think I needed to kind of realize my purpose here at FGCU,” Rivera said. “Although I wish I would have gone out with my group of seniors … everything happens for a reason.”

The Cape Coral native and Bishop Verot grad was expecting big things last year, so dealing with the injury was especially tough.

“My initial thought there was I’m going to get through this, but when I knew what the injury was, I just thought, ‘Why me?'” Rivera said.

Accepting the injury and moving past the disappointment took some doing.

“I felt sorry for myself all the time through that process,” Rivera said. “I would fake being happy, but it took me a while to get over it.”

The experience has left him with wisdom he can impart to his younger teammates.

“He just tells them to respect the game,” head coach Dave Tollett said. “You never know when it’s going to be your last game.”

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