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Holley mourns Carmelo Rivera, who starred on the football team

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 July 2014 at 12:00 am

22-year-old was killed Sunday in accident with pea combine

Photo/13 WHAM – Carmelo Rivera

HOLLEY – The 22-year-old Holley man who died Sunday after an accident with a pea combine in Bergen was a highly respected member of the Holley football program, a former all star who volunteered as a coach for Holley’s youth football teams.

Carmelo Rivera’s loss is hitting hard for many of his classmates and community members. They gathered on the Holley football field for a vigil on Sunday night, with teammates driving from New York City and Pennsylvania and across New York to share their grief.

“We lost the type of young man we need in today’s society,” said Rivera’s coach Chad DeRock. “He was selfless and charismatic.”

Rivera was a captain on Holley football teams that advanced into the playoffs, teams that turned 0-8 seasons into 8-win powerhouses. Rivera played on the offensive line and was a linebacker.

He worked hard in the weight room, lead the linemen in drills and won the respect of his teammates and opponents, DeRock said. Rivera was named a Genesee Region All Star.

“He was a very good player who paved his way with hard work and sweat,” DeRock said.

“Carmelo was the type of kid where you have more than his athletic ability. He was a kid of character. He was a man of virtue.” – Chad DeRock, football coach

Rivera was studying exercise science at Brockport State College. He juggled three jobs to help pay for college. He still found time to come back as a volunteer coach in the youth football program.

“I’ve always preached to the kids to come back and give back,” said John Grillo, who leads Holley’s wrestling program and pushed for the district to add football.

Not many recent graduates take up that charge and return to the sidelines, helping a new generation of players. But Rivera would help the varsity and youth football teams.

“He had the respect of the players because of his determination and his motivation to excel as a player,” Grillo said. “He had a hard work ethic and a motivation for self improvement.”

DeRock is now a coach and teacher at Letchworth. He was teaching global studies at Holley when he mentioned to Rivera he should give football a shot. Rivera was a sophomore then and had limited experience with the game.

He hit the weight room, studied football and connected with his teammates. He emerged as one of the best players on a team that was one of the best in the Genesee Region.

“Carmelo was the type of kid where you have more than his athletic ability,” DeRock said. “He was a kid of character. He was a man of virtue.”

Brockport State College issued a statement about the “great sadness” in the college community over Rivera’s death.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Carmelo’s family and friends,” according to the statement. “Our counselors are available at the Hazen Hall Counseling Center (395-2207) for those who would like to talk to someone during this difficult time.”