If You Want To Compete for Championships, You Need A Strong B-A-S-E, Part 1 – Will Brew

For a little over a decade now, four North Kingstown student athletes, collectively, have distinguished themselves as champions on a number of different levels. Champions in the community volunteering. Champions in the classroom. Champions in multiple sports – baseball, hockey, football – to name a few (there may be other titles I am not aware of) and all playing prominent roles on their respective teams. After all, these are team sports and it takes more than one to compete for a championship. However, it helps when you have a strong base. A B-A-S-E made up of the following North Kingstown student athletes:

  • B – Will Brew
  • A- Andrew Ciarniello
  • S – Brady Spitzer
  • E – Evan Beattie

As a fan of this group and friend to the parents of this group for many years, I was interested to know what makes a champion, how does a champion prepare for a big game, deal with a big time loss, what steps does a champion take to be successful, and what was their most cherished victory to date in their ongoing athletic careers. I sent the families and the “BASE” crew a list of questions to learn more about their athletic beginnings, the great times, the not so great losses, and the answers were just incredible. To give each student athlete his due, I have split up the 4 (virtually only) for the time being so they can have the spotlight shine brightly on their answers and their achievements. And so, without further interruption, I introduce the “B” in B-A-S-E: Will Brew:

● Tell me about your first sports experience – baseball, hockey, football, basketball?

Brew – My first sports experience was probably skating on our backyard rink. Every year my dad  would set up a 40’ X 20’ rink over the winter and that’s where I really fell in love with sports. 

● Can you recall your first big moment in sports – a base hit, a big strikeout, a touchdown, a goal, a big shot, a save – one that really stands out? 

Brew – My first big moment was getting a base hit in a playoff game against Curtis Corner Middle school during my seventh grade year. My most memorable moment was scoring the game winning shootout goal to send our high school hockey team to the finals last year. We were tied after 2 periods of overtime and I was picked to be the final shooter. After scoring, celebrating with the team felt so good and to be able to move onto the championship. Doing something in a game like that is something I’ll never forget and will always be able to look back on. 

● At what age and for what team were you first introduced to the concept of team – a group of players working together towards a common goal. 

Brew – In district 11s for little league was when I first got the concept of a team.  We all worked off each other and were able to make a run to the finals. 

● What was your first experience with loss or a setback as part of a team? 

Brew – My first experience with a loss was district 11s, we went undefeated to the championship game, but lost twice in the finals. 

● What was your first experience with winning a championship or league title as a team?

Brew – My first experience with winning a championship was my eight grade year at Wickford Middle School. We capped off an undefeated season beating North Cumberland in the finals and I was able to catch the final out of the game.  

● Can you talk about a game that didn’t go so well that motivated you the following season or off season? Something that didn’t sit right for a long time? 

Brew – Last winter we made it to the state finals for hockey. We lost two very tight games against Cranston West. It was very sad to see all of the seniors leave on such a bad note. We worked all season and played great in the playoffs. Watching it all end after we battled so hard was tough to watch. Through the summer and fall, that feeling of being so close, but losing the way we did motivated me to work even harder.  

● During the next season or seasons, was that feeling ever vindicated on the field – a winning season, beating a crosstown rival, a championship run, possibly a title? 

Brew – Hopefully it will be, we haven’t had the best start to the season as we would have liked but we know that we are capable of making another run. 

● Is it true that by practicing with intensity and hustle and effort, that translates into a solid performance on the field, on the rink, on the diamond? 

Brew – Absolutely, every practice no matter the sport, you have to be mentally and physically prepared for game-like situations. The best way to emulate that is through high intensity practice and drills. 

● You play multiple sports. Have you always competed in multiple sports? 

Brew – Yes, I have played hockey since I was about 2 or 3 on the backyard rink and tee ball from as early as I can remember. 

● What does football or hockey or basketball have to do with your ability to hit a baseball or field a ground ball or throw strikes? 

Brew – I feel that other sports like hockey and football translate to baseball because we know the work effort you have to put in to see results. If you have a bad round of bp, you can try to work on things in the cage, or if you have a bad game on the ice, you can shoot pucks off ice. Things outside of practice no matter the sport is where you can get better. 

● Based on your athletic history, do you feel that playing multiple sports has had a positive impact on your baseball ability? 

Brew – Yes, for sure. Playing other sports builds your confidence and shows you how to work hard. 

● From a mental standpoint, which sport is the most grueling preparation wise – pre-game, practice time, in game adjustments. 

Brew – Baseball is the most grueling preparation wise. Not only knowing every rule, but knowing plays, what to do and when to do it, tendencies. A lot of things go into each play that are almost natural for us at this point. 

● Fall sports run into winter sports which run into spring sports which run into summer sports – do you work out off season to prepare for your next season sports wise? For example, you play football in the fall, which is technically baseball’s off season. Are you preparing in any way for baseball in the fall, or are you just focused on football exclusively? 

Brew – I would say having practice almost every day for baseball and hockey makes it hard to focus on an offseason. But when there is an opportunity, doing little things like playing catch or stickhandling on an off day or even after practice has really helped me become better. For me the summer and fall is where I really work the hardest though lifting and training for both sports. 

● If so, what are some keys to balancing your workload for your current sport, yet preparing on some level for the sport you will be playing in 3 to 6 months?

Brew – What has helped me is focusing on the sport that I am involved in at the time and working to better myself throughout the season. But when there is time, doing little things like hitting off a tee in the basement or stickhandling for a short amount of time makes it so that I am not unprepared come the start of next season. 

 ● Let’s talk about winning for a bit. You have won state titles on several levels of competition from Middle School to High School. Do you have a favorite title run or team that stands out? 

Brew – My favorite championship run was last spring’s high school baseball season. We were a sneaky team, no one really knew how good we were except us. We worked so hard throughout the whole season. It was really fun to play because we played our best baseball during the playoffs only losing 1 game where it really counted. 

● If you can recall, what steps did you take each day, each practice, each game to stay focused on your ultimate goal of winning that title? 

Brew – Each and every day was totally focused on what we did wrong and how to improve it. We just got better every day. Having one of the toughest schedules in the league last year and having so many close games helped us tremendously because we had already been there and knew what to expect. Our coaches and the community are always supporting us and it feels good to reward them for their efforts. 

● Feel free to mention a coach or coaches that were instrumental in getting you to play at your absolute very best day after day, game after game. 

Brew – Coach Gormley has helped me tremendously to get me to be my best each and every game. Having such high intensity and making sure you are doing the right things 100% of the time has really helped me. There are always things to get better at and Coach Gormley knows what it takes to get the best out of the team. Also my father who has coached me since tee ball. No matter what I need he is always there to help and work on things all the time. He makes great sacrifices for me, even driving to those 5 am hockey practices. He has allowed holes in the basement ceiling and walls from hockey pucks and baseballs. I cannot thank him enough for all he has done for me over the years. 

● Define leadership on a team. What characteristics make a good leader or captain on a sports team?

Brew – Leadership is doing what’s best for the team and making sure everyone has what they need to be at their best. A good captain is always looking for ways to get the team better. He is there if you need help and is a great communicator. Being honest, even if that means calling you out on something that has really hurt the team. He is just always in the best interest of the team, team before himself mindset. 

● You all play a very high level in your sports. Do you still get nervous and anxious on Opening Day or in a playoff game or championship game? 

Brew – Yes absolutely, the jitters and nerves are unfortunately always there. Having that adrenaline rush is still something that never gets old.

● What are some things you do to de-stress pre-game so you can focus on “doing your job” on the field of play? 

Hitting off a tee, or playing catch, little things to assure myself I am prepared. Even just talking to a teammate. We are also very superstitious, and Andrew puts on his gloves in a certain order before every at bat, I put my cleats on in a certain order, little things like this “assure” us and make it less stressful. 

● The final out is recorded, you storm the pitcher’s mound, your teammates are jumping up and down with excitement for winning. Who is the first person or persons you look for in the stands to share your moment with? 

Brew – Definitely my Mom and Dad. For me it just happens so quickly, you’re so full of excitement since we are all so close, anyone who is near you want to celebrate with. 

● What has it meant to you personally to win state titles for the school you are representing? 

Brew – It is a great opportunity, representing the school in the right way, showing that we are one of the top programs again. Especially after so many years without a state championship and being able to finally bring it home was an unforgettable experience. The community, parents, teachers and coaches are always supporting us. They put a lot of time and energy into the program so it means a lot to show that we appreciate what they do for us. 

● Does winning on the field of play translate into your confidence as a person?

Brew – Yes, knowing you can work so hard and finally seeing it pay off is a great feeling. Definitely having more confidence, but staying humble is something I know we all will stay true to. 

 ● Ok, let’s get competitive here between the 4 of you: 

○ 50 yard dash, who wins? 

Brew – Andrew

○ Who can strike out the other 3 hitters, no problem? 

Brew – Beattie, wouldn’t be that easy tho

○ Best student 

Brew – Andrew

○ Best overall athlete 

Brew – Andrew

○ Biggest prankster 

Brew – Brady

● Where do you see yourself academically, athletically, and/or professionally in 2 years to 4 years?

Brew – I hope to attend a four year college, and would love to play baseball in college just like my Dad.  If the opportunity is there, playing hockey is also something that I would be greatly interested in. 

Huge thanks to Will Brew and his parents Bill and Joy for taking part in this interview and providing the photos of some of Will’s championship moments. Best of luck Will in your academic and athletic journey, still being written at North Kingstown High School classrooms, area hockey rinks, and soon to be baseball fields of Rhode Island.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “If You Want To Compete for Championships, You Need A Strong B-A-S-E”, featuring the “A” of BASE – Andrew Ciarniello

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