By Mallory Allen
ASHWAUBENON – As the famous quote goes, “Find something you love to do and then do it for the rest of your life.”
Ravarius “Vie” Rivers was a young child when he found his ‘something’ — football.
Now 25 years old, the little boy from Georgia who hoped to one day become a professional athlete has made his dream a reality.
As Rivers’ first season of pro football with the Green Bay Blizzard — a member of the Indoor Football League (IFL) — comes to a close, he’s reflecting on the journey that got him here while also looking forward to what’s still to come.
The early years
Rivers was raised in Ellenwood — a southern suburb of Atlanta — as the youngest of three brothers.
“I was just a regular kid. Outside a lot, always having fun,” Rivers said. “I got into football at a real young age. Around the same time I learned to tie my shoes. I knew early on that I was good at it. Football has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.”
Rivers played a lot of different positions over the years including quarterback and wide receiver, but it wasn’t until his high school senior season that he found his calling as a defensive back.
“I wanted to be able to help my team make plays, and I felt like playing DB was the best way for me to do that,” Rivers explained. “The rest is history.”
Highs and lows
Rivers began his collegiate football career by playing two seasons at Miles College in Alabama.
He then transferred to Valdosta State University (VSU) back in his home state of Georgia, where he was a member of the undefeated Blazers squad that went 14-0 en route to winning the NCAA Division II Championship in 2018.
“That was arguably the greatest year of my life. It was incredible. I was recognized as an All-American, All-Conference and All-Super Region player,” Rivers said. “It felt great, being a part of the best team in the nation. It really boosted my confidence and allowed me to realize that I could showcase my talent.”
After so much success that season — both personally and with his team — it was difficult for Rivers to endure the football hiatus that followed in the coming years.
Ineligibility forced him to miss VSU’s 2019 season; Rivers opted out of the 2020 COVID year; and then in 2021, he fractured his foot.
He returned to the field in fall 2022 and had a solid season, but an ankle injury prevented him from playing to his highest potential, and Rivers didn’t gain the traction he’d hoped to after his time at VSU.
As spring rolled around, Rivers was given the chance to continue his career in the National Arena League (NAL) — an indoor football association considered ‘below’ the IFL — and signed with the Jacksonville Sharks in March, ahead of their 2023 season.
However, before he could even play a snap in the NAL, a “connection with a friend” led to Rivers receiving an IFL offer from the Green Bay Blizzard.
“I didn’t think too much about it. I knew what I had to do,” Rivers said. “Once I was given this opportunity, I jumped on it. And here I am now.”
Despite not joining the team until week six of the season, Rivers has worked hard to establish himself as a consistent force in the Blizzard secondary.
He leads Green Bay’s defense in tackles and currently sits in second for interceptions.
“Vie is a very versatile defensive back that can play any of the DB positions if we need him to, which helps our defense tremendously,” said Kenny Ridley, who coaches the Blizzard DBs. “He’s a ball hawk and a great tackler. I’m looking forward to seeing him finish off his rookie season strong.”
Making a difference
As valuable as he’s been in the Blizzard backfield, one could argue that Rivers has made an even bigger impact in the community than he has on the football field.
Since arriving in Green Bay midway through April, Rivers has volunteered to participate in more than 15 appearances at local schools, youth sports camps, businesses and events.
“I love doing community appearances, especially ones with kids. When I was young, athletes and other influential people would come to my school or show up at other events I was at. To this day, I still vividly remember those moments, so I know how much it means to kids,” he said.
“Giving a child something to smile about, or telling him or her that it’s going to be alright when they’re having a bad day — that can stick with them,” Rivers continued. “Out of all the people and kids I’ve met here in Green Bay, if I can change just one life, it’s a win for me. Community is everything.”
Living the dream
As his rookie season draws to an end, Rivers doesn’t know where he’ll end up next, but he’s thankful for all the experiences and opportunities he’s been given in Green Bay while playing with the Blizzard.
For the first time, Rivers can now call himself a professional football player — a feat he’s spent most of his life chasing.
“It means the world to me. Growing up, a lot of kids who look like me dream about playing professional sports, especially football and basketball,” he explained. “[The IFL] might not be the highest league out there, but just being able to say that I signed a professional contract and I’m a pro football player is awesome. Younger me would be so proud.”
Rivers said his favorite part about football is “using my God-given talent for a reason and a purpose” and that he knows that his passion for the game won’t end once his playing days do.
“I definitely plan on coaching in the future. I think I have great insight to share on a lot of things. Having accomplished what I have, I would love to pass it on to the next generation.”