HUNTSVILLE, Texas – Entering his first season at the helm for the Sam Houston State softball program, head coach Garrett Valis announced the hiring of assistant coach and SHSU alumna Tori Rivera on Monday, August 6.

“Coach Rivera has had success at every level she has coached and played at,” Valis said. “She brings a confident energy with her coaching style and knows what it takes to display excellence in our conference.”

As an assistant coach, Rivera will assist as a hitting coach, instruct the Bearkat outfield and coordinate team travel.

Formerly Tori Benavidez, Rivera coached alongside previous head coach Bob Brock and Valis from 2014 to 2015. She was responsible for conducting outfield workouts and assisting left-handed hitters and slappers.

“I expect Tori to fit in extremely well here,” Valis added. “Her personality aligns with the culture we are creating. It is great to have her back in Bearkat orange.”

Rivera returns to SHSU after serving as the head softball coach and physical education instructor at North Zulch High School, where she led the Bulldogs to a playoff run.

In addition to her duties at North Zulch High School, Rivera coached the Texas Travelers ball club. She also served as a baseball instructor and RBI softball coach for the Texas Rangers Baseball Club and helped with instruction in the beginning stages of the Urban Youth Academy.

Rivera completed her career as a Bearkat outfielder as Sam Houston’s second all-time leading hitter with a four-year .358 batting average.

The standout started in centerfield from 2010 to 2013 and earned 2013 Southland Conference Player of the Year and Hitter of the Year honors after leading the league in runs scored (51), total hits (52), total bases (117) and stolen bases (22) while taking second in batting average (.406) and at-bats (202).

The first-team all-conference selection earned all-tournament laurels after leading the Bearkats to the championship game of the 2013 Southland tournament and was named to the NCAA Central All-Region Team.

A native of Midlothian, Texas, Rivera graduated cum laude with a 3.50 GPA in general business and was the first softball student-athlete of the year from SHSU. She went on to earn her Master of Arts in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Sport Management from SHSU in 2014. Rivera married her husband, Stevyn, in 2015 and the two welcomed their daughter, Spencer, in 2018.