The players on the football team at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains have, for 10 years, known all about Joe Riverso.
But, as time passes, things change. Mike O'Donnell, the football coach and athletic director at Stepinac, noted that the kids on the coming season's team were very young on Sept. 11, 2001, when Riverso was one of the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center.
Riverso left behind a daughter, who is now a high school senior.
"We just try to make sure the kids understand what happened that day and try to keep it alive," O'Donnell said. "Most of these kids now were 6 or 7 years old that day. So, it's hard for them to remember."
But they will remember. Riverso played football at Stepinac, graduating in the mid-1980s, and came back as a coach. When O'Donnell became the head coach in 1988, his close buddy Riverso became the defensive coordinator.
In 1999, his football coaching was limited to helping out, as he got a job at Cantor Fitzgerald.
So for these 10 years, Stepinac has worn Riverso's uniform No. 70 on patches, and especially on all of the gear worn by the coaching staff.
The Catholic High Schools Football League has named one of its major awards the Joseph Riverso Memorial Offensive Player of the Year. O'Donnell chuckled at the irony that Riverso was a defensive coach. But Riverso obviously touched kids on both sides of the ball, as well as teams and students and coaches from all corners of the league, and across his native White Plains.
This year, when Stepinac plays rival Iona Prep, it will be in its annual night game in Riverso's honor.
Riverso's family donates money for the lights, and the White Plains Bernies come to play at halftime. It is a big community event.
"Those are the things Joe most loved," O'Donnell said. "He played for the Bernies, he loved football.
"We try to make it the best game of the year, where we get a big crowd."
The Riverso family also gives out scholarships to Stepinac students each year - this year it was three football players and one golfer (golf was Joe's other favorite sport). And the family sponsors kids who hope to attend Stepinac as well.
Riverso's brother, Will, and sister, Maria, run a golf tournament to raise the funds for the scholarships, and to keep Joe's name alive.
- Rick Carpiniello
View and sign victim's guest book