MILTON — Pace High School student Paiten Rivera achieved a goal that few only dream of by competing in the international United World Games in Klagenfurt, Austria, last month.
Rivera was on the team of athletes who banned together to bring home the silver medal in basketball, achieving another one of her dreams.
"I was very happy (to win the silver medal) and felt like I had accomplished something important," Rivera said. "I was also relieved because it was a close game."
Rivera was chosen by the organization STUDENTathleteWorld who, according to a statement from their organization, selects student-athletes from a national pool based on a combination of their athletic ability, as well as their academics, leadership ability, and character. Rivera attended a high school basketball evaluation camp, All American Showcase, hosted in Louisiana in August last year where college basketball coaches evaluated her performance.
When she first met her fellow teammates, Rivera said she was shy but soon grew to think of her team as family. She said after their first game they started building chemistry and began connecting.
"We started off as strangers going to another country and came back to the United States as family," she said. "I loved playing with all of my teammates. It was great learning experience."
While she enjoyed meeting new people, Rivera said her favorite part of the trip was the game itself. She said she also enjoyed being able to go to a lake and play volleyball with people from different countries.
"I also liked how beautiful the mountains were in Austria and the lakes all intertwined in the mountains," she said.
Rivera said initially she wasn’t really interested in basketball until her mother encouraged her to try it out.
“My mom signed me up for rec ball in the second grade and wanted me to try it for one season,” she said. “I found out that I really liked playing basketball and have been playing ever since then.”
Rivera said for anyone who is interested in playing basketball or who wants to improve their skills has to always keep a positive attitude. In addition, she said you should always be willing to listen to your coaches and be willing to work hard and be determined. Being willing to make tough decisions like missing social activities with friends on the weekends because of practices and tournaments, she said, is something that comes with the territory. She said making those tough decisions helped her reach her dream to play overseas.