Servant leadership is about strength through humility, and the desire to serve those you lead to raise their performance. Where you lead makes everyone around you succeed.
Chase Rivera has watched his dad, Mike Rivera, for 18 years lead not only his family, but his teammates and classmates. It's this model of servant leadership that the Bolles senior plans to take with him to the United States Naval Academy come 2019.
What It Means To Be a Servant Leader
When you speak to Rivera at the finish line of any race, he will be one of the first to detail his teammate's accomplishments before his own -- on a team with many young athletes you can see he continually encourages each one to reach for their goals.
"You have to put others first and recognize their success. It's can be too easy to talk about yourself," Rivera said.
Rivera, a 1500m National Indoor Champion, knew he would be a runner -- it runs in the family. With his dad as his coach, he knew the Bolles team would feel like a family.
"I have never really experienced a coach that is not my dad. It's just easy. It's comfortable," said Rivera. "The thing is my Dad is like this with all of my teammates, not just me."
Coach Mike Rivera has led the Bolles boys cross country team since 2013, and in the process, has led the program to its most successful seasons since the 1980s while building a team culture centered around servant leadership.
Rivera, who has no immediate family military background, was introduced to the USNA in the eighth grade through a parent on his little brother, Miles', soccer team. In 2018, former teammate, John Bowers, went through the recruiting process for the Naval Academy and Rivera was there every step of the way. All signs pointed to the USNA.
With many other power-house programs seeking Rivera for their recruiting class, there was a decision needing to be made. For Rivera, the answer was simple.
"The Naval Academy's mission statement of creating leaders that are mentally and physically strong spoke to me," Rivera said.
The USNA combined servant leadership and the opportunity to compete alongside his former teammate, John Bowers, as a cross country and track athlete.
"As long as I have the opportunity to race, I am going to run well. I will have the training, no matter where I go. Anywhere can be a great running school, if I choose to make it that way," Rivera said.
The Opportunity to Serve
Coach Rivera, Coach Stam, and the rest of the Bolles boys XC staff have instilled in the Bolles program the belief that you have the choice to go for greatness. You have the opportunity to serve. It is a choice and a gift to be a servant leader.
"I have always considered it an honor to have the opportunity to serve my country," Rivera said.
On Saturday, Rivera and the Bolles squad will line up for the opportunity to race for a spot at the Nike Cross National meet. This is the race they have been training for all year and if they race like they have all season, it won't be their last race of the year.
The Bolles cross country athletes of 2019 can attest that the life lessons they have learned from being athletes on this team are transcendent beyond the running world.
"I really enjoy having my dad as my coach. I want to model myself after him," said Rivera. "I admire who he is and how he carries himself, I just love him a lot."
The Bolles boys cross country team is a family and leadership runs at the very core.