Rivera passionate about baseball, faith

Brance Rivera embodies love.

“It’s how I live my life,” Rivera said. “I love everyone no matter who they are or what they’ve done because that’s the perfect example of Jesus [Christ] and who he was.”

Senior outfielder Rivera has a passion for baseball, but he lives to serve God and make a difference in people’s lives.

“Any time that God can work through me to bring someone closer to him, that’s the biggest personal accomplishment I could have,” he said. “I’m passionate about people and I love them.”

Naturally, Rivera’s love has reached his teammates as he has opened up about his faith being the foundation of his life.

Over the past four years, Rivera and other teammates have organized a team Bible study where players could openly discuss their faith. He said he has seen a change in many hearts this season.

“I’m going to try as hard as I can and work at [baseball] with all my heart,” he said. “But I’m also going to work with all my heart to be an example to all the guys on the team.”

Rivera’s love for the Lord and people come from his family. Although he was raised in a Christian home, Rivera never took his parents’ love for granted.

“We’ve always had a close relationship. [Brance] calls me before every game and [I] give him some words of wisdom and encouragement,” Matt Rivera, Brance’s father and former baseball coach said. “He always calls after the game.”

Matt and Susanna Rivera drive 14 hours from Muscatine, Iowa to Fort Worth every home weekend series to see their son doing what he loves to do.

“We just always wanted to support what his dream is, and we love what TCU has done for him,” Matt said.

Susanna said they were proud of all their son’s accomplishments on the field. But, they were more proud of him for the heart he has for people and his commitment to his faith.

“He has stood strong on what he believes and hasn’t wavered from that,” Susanna said. “I think he’s gained a lot a respect from his teammates because what he says, he does.”

Head coach Jim Schlossnagle said Brance quietly led the team with his faith but tremendously impacted the program.

“He’s just a special person,” Schlossnagle said. “There’s a lot of rough days as a college coach. Wins and losses determine your fate, but when you get a chance to spend every day around a guy like that, it makes it worth it.”

In 2009, Brance joined a summer league called Athletes in Action in Zeno, Ohio, where he got to actively pursue his faith and play baseball at the same time. 

“What I learned from that summer is don’t be passive and don’t hope things come to you,” Brance said. “You’ve got to be strong and courageous like it says in the Bible. God didn’t give us the spirit of timidity, but of power.”

Brance was once a little boy who was afraid of getting hit in the batter’s box as a five-year-old. Now, he was in the midst of his last collegiate season, patiently waiting to see if he will be drafted into Major League Baseball.

“I know this year hasn’t gone as planned, but I’m not giving up,” he said. “I definitely see myself playing baseball on a MLB team. Apart from that, just using whatever platform God gives me to bring glory and recognition to his name whether it be baseball or whether or not be.”

Matt said if his son did not pursue a professional baseball career, he could see him entering into physical therapy and using it as a ministry to help people and spread the Gospel. He said he knew Brance would do all he could to use his gifts and skills to witness to as many people as he could.

“We know the Lord has a special plan and purpose for him, and we trust and have faith in that,” Susanna said. “If it is baseball, we know no man can undo what the Lord has planned for Brance. But if it isn’t baseball, I know he knows there’s a greater plan and a bigger picture and a different blessing for him. Whatever the Lord sends him, he will do it with joy and walk in those steps.”

Brance said the one piece of advice that has carried him throughout his baseball career was the Bible verse Colossians 3:23, “Everything you do, work at it with all your heart as for working for the Lord and not for man.” 

“As long as I give it my all and try as hard as I can, God is pleased if I go 0-for-4 or 4-for-4,” Brance said. “God is my strength, God is my rock. Honestly, I’m just leaning on him.