Youth Baseball: Fostering Passion, Unity, And Community

By: Taja Johnson, Follow South Jersey Intern

Voorhees Township youth baseball fields. Photo credit: Taja Johnson.

VOORHEES, N.J. – Voorhees Township has a special place in its heart for youth baseball, particularly the Greater Voorhees Athletic Association (GVAA). GVAA’s youth baseball program has been a cornerstone of this tight-knit community for decades, instilling values, teamwork, and a deep passion for the sport in its young athletes. Coach John Riviello, a beloved figure in the GVAA baseball community, shares his thoughts on the game’s importance and how it all began.

Coach John Riviello and his son Max. Photo credit: Taja Johnson.

“I’ve always loved baseball since I was young. I grew up playing baseball at GVAA from tee-ball through high school,” reminisces Coach Riviello. His personal connection to GVAA baseball goes back generations, creating a strong bond with the program. “When my son and daughter started playing youth sports, I volunteered to coach their teams in baseball, basketball, and soccer.”

Baseball, however, held a special place in Coach Riviello’s heart. 

“Baseball was the first sport I coached when my son began playing at age 4,” he says with a smile. His dedication to the game was evident when, at the tender age of 7, his son joined the travel baseball team. Coach Riviello stepped up to lead the team as the head coach, a role he has cherished ever since. Today, he continues to guide the 12U travel team with unwavering commitment.

One of the fundamental lessons Coach Riviello imparts to his young athletes is the essence of teamwork. GVAA places a strong emphasis on skill development at all levels. This commitment to grow allows kids to see tangible improvements in their abilities, boosting their self-confidence and love for the game.

 “I stress that baseball is a team sport. One player alone cannot carry the team,” he emphasizes. His coaching philosophy focuses on nurturing a strong work ethic and exemplary behavior both on and off the field. “An individual’s play, work ethic, and actions both on and off the field can inspire others, so I lean into praising behavior we want to see,” he adds.

Dedicated coaches invest not only their time but also their heart into nurturing young talent. Their enthusiasm for the game is infectious, making practices and the games something kids eagerly look forward to. Kids become eager to learn and to play alongside teammates season after season. It creates bonds that extend beyond the field.

During games, Coach Riviello’s approach is to highlight outstanding efforts by individual players, using these moments to inspire the entire team. “When I address the team during a game, I focus on calling out great efforts by individual players and asking the group to make sure they’re matching that focus and effort, rather than calling out mistakes,” he explains.

GVAA baseball emphasizes sportsmanship, respect, and fair play. Kids learn valuable life lessons on the field that extend beyond the game itself. The unwavering support of parents, volunteers and local businesses makes baseball a thriving program. Kids feel a sense of pride knowing they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

The kids absolutely relish being a part of Voorhees GVAA baseball and playing in a travel team. It’s more than just a sport; it’s a vibrant community where they forge lasting friendships and foster a deep love for the game. From the thrill of donning their team jerseys to the excitement of away games in different towns, every moment is a source of pure joy and camaraderie. The travel team experience not only hones their baseball skills but also teaches them valuable life lessons about teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. Their faces light up with every pitch thrown and every run scored, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Voorhees GVAA baseball is a source of pride and happiness for these young athletes.

“I love playing baseball because it’s fun and I get to be with my friends. I learn a lot about different positions and the coaches help me learn more about the game,” Ryan, a GVAA baseball player, said.

GVAA’s youth baseball program is more than just a pastime; it’s a vital part of the Voorhees Township community. It instills values like teamwork, sportsmanship, and dedication in its young participants, values they carry with them throughout their lives. The GVAA coaches’ passion for the sport and their commitment to the development of these young athletes continue to shape the future of GVAA baseball, making it an indispensable asset to the community. 

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