Athletes strive to be the best. They want the most touchdowns, the highest batting average and the most goals. 

But beyond what appears in the stat sheets, they also want to reach — and succeed — at the highest level of their sports. They want to win the Super Bowl on a hail mary in the fourth quarter, they want to clinch a World Series championship and they want to win at the World Cup in penalty kicks. Each athlete defines success differently, and for some athletes, earning a championship supersedes personal accolades.  

And on the Michigan women’s soccer team, senior defender Jayde Riviere found success through winning. Her championship moment came with Team Canada at the 2020 Olympics where she earned a gold medal by defeating  Sweden in a match that was decided by penalty kicks. 

For a player to represent their country on the biggest stage is an immense honor in itself, but Riviere took it a step further by succeeding under the pressure and bringing home gold. 

“I think it was the scariest moment of my career, considering that it went to penalties.” Riviere said. “It is a different kind of fear when you have to line up knowing you might potentially have to take a penalty kick.”

But the work to reach that moment started long ago, and that championship drive traces through her career at Michigan.


Riviere’s aspirations of being a soccer star began  well before her college days. 

She started playing at three years old with her father, Tony Riviere, who was a soccer player for a local club team. He made sure to get her on the turf as soon as she could and he wasted no time showing  her the great joys of the sport.

“He would take me out to the field every other day to run drills, ” Jayde said. “I had a more emotional connection to the sport because of my dad.”

And that passion  blossomed into Riviere’s love of the sport. She started her national duties when she was 15 with the U15 Provincial Team, an experience that  left her with a room full of medals and trophies to commemorate her contribution to her country even before graduating high school.

And the  connection to her home country played a huge role in  her decision to play with the Wolverines. 

“It is only a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Pickering,” Riviere said. “It was important to me that my parents could come watch games.”

It was important that her parents — the people who supported her from the first time she kicked a ball at three years old —   could travel and watch her develop her game at the collegiate level. And as the national team called on her, the game quickly transformed into something drastically different.

As one of the youngest members on the national team, Riviere was moldable, and Canada coach Bev Priestman shaped her into the player Canada needed most for the Olympic Games. Riviere willingly shifted positions from her natural midfield to fullback in order to fill those needs. She even changed positions at Michigan in order to better prepare for national team duties when she was called up..

“The national team was in need of a fullback,” Riviere said. “The more I can get practice as a fullback at Michigan, the easier it will be to transition for international play.”

 But to win a championship, she needed to do more than just change positions. She had to adapt to playing with teammates and against opponents that were faster and more skilled than those she knew in Pickering and at Michigan.

“(The) speed of play and the experience that comes with that are really different,” Riviere said. “I think the biggest difference for me is going from a leadership role at Michigan to being a newbie and trying to find myself on an international platform.”

That experience, and her time with the Wolverines, showed her how to be a better athlete.

“Adaptability is a huge thing when it comes to being an athlete. Our bodies get put through a lot, especially at the Olympics,” Riviere said. “I think learning to adapt to other teams and how they play is crucial.”

And as her pursuit of a championship forced her to accept change, Riviere embodied that mentality. In the end, the Olympic gold medal that hung around her neck and the pride of success showed that her sacrifice was worth it.. Entering her junior year at Michigan, she had already proven that her championship mentality could put hardware in the trophy case.


Coming off that success, Riviere joined a Michigan program competing for its own championship. And in that quest, she played a crucial role.  

Riviere was a key pillar to the Wolverines’ backline, seeing over 1,620 minutes of match time in the 2021-22 season and only ever missing games for national team duties. In that role, she led Michigan to a Big Ten Championship and an NCAA Quarterfinals appearance.

The  experience of that Michigan team facilitated its success. The foundation of the Wolverines’ game was built on the leadership and skills of their upperclassmen, who filled every slot in the starting lineup.

And following  that successful campaign, most of those upperclassmen graduated and  will  move on to the next stages of their lives and soccer careers. 

The shift leaves Riviere caught at a crossroads. 

While she’s one of the youngest players on Team Canada, she is one of the oldest on the Michigan women’s soccer team, a program facing the departure of 10 graduating players. 

“We could see in our spring games that we are missing a large portion of our team,” Riviere said. “We have a very fresh and raw team.”

But the loss of talent doesn’t bother her. Riviere isn’t afraid to use her experience to exert her leadership, and she strives to pass on the lessons she learned through the path to her gold medal.

And Riviere believes that the Wolverines will fill the gaping hole left behind with their highly touted class of freshmen and transfer players.

“The expectations are still the same for this season,” Riviere said. “We want to win our conference and we want to go to the NCAA tournament. Nothing has changed in terms of our aspirations and goals.”

But for the gold medalist, the expectations are extremely high. It’s her time to step up and utilize her international experience to guide Michigan’s new talent. Riviere has the opportunity to be what coach Priestman was to her, and to mold incoming players to fit the gaps in its lineup just like her Team Canada coach once did.

“Regardless of my role on the team, I try to be a leader,” Riviere said. “We lost a lot of big voices from our graduating fifth-years and seniors. It is really important that a lot of people step up.”

Riviere has been playing soccer for the majority of her life. She found a love for the sport and a connection to her father through it. Her aspirations of  a career in the sport are backed by her undeniable adaptability, leadership and stability skills on and off the field.

With the desire to turn her love for soccer into a lifelong career by going into a professional European league following her time at Michigan, the experiences and accolades she has acquired will play an integral part in that. And through  participation on Team Canada, she got to travel around the world, seeing the culture of soccer in countries like Uruguay and Australia, gaining a well-rounded appreciation of the sport.

Now more than ever, the Wolverines need Riviere’s stability and experience to bolster not only their backline, but to prepare their raw talent for success at the NCAA level. Riviere can be the Swiss Army knife — full of versatility and a myriad of uses — that the Wolverines need after losing the majority of their starting lineup.

And after being honed with an Olympic gold medal and a Big Ten Championship, Riviere seems ready for that role.