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 “A” in B-A-S-E: Andrew Ciarniello:
In your opinion, is there such a thing as “moral victories”?
Andrew – I strongly believe in moral victories in sports. Although the outcome may not always be
what you wanted, there is always something that can be taken from a loss. There is
always a ton to be learned throughout a season and sometimes losing a game contributes
to that more than winning. Moral victories are used to remain optimistic and look at the
positives from a game that didn’t turn out so well.
Is it true that practicing with intensity and hustle and effort, that translates into performance on
the field, on the rink, on the diamond?
Andrew – Practicing with intensity and 100% all the time is crucial for any athlete. No athlete gets
better by simply just going through the motions. You have to find that extra gear even
when training might get hard, knowing what it will do for you on the field. The more
hustle that goes into your training and workouts, the more you will get out of it.
You play multiple sports. Have you always competed in multiple sports?
Andrew – I have always competed in multiple sports. I have played baseball, basketball, and
football for about 10 years of my life now.
Based on your athletic history, do you feel that playing multiple sports has had an impact on your
Andrew – I feel that playing multiple sports is extremely beneficial to any athlete, especially in their
younger years. Any participation in a team sport improves your communication with
others and exposes you to the concept of teamwork and working together. Anything that
is done in those sports can be related to baseball, from the quickness in football to the
precision needed in basketball.
You have won state titles on several levels of competition, do you have a favorite title run that
Andrew – All of our championship teams have been special, but that Wickford team was extra
special. It was just the perfect way to culminate the end of our middle school careers. We
knew we had a special group from the minute we stepped onto the field, and we saw
some success in our first few years. But, to come out in 8th grade with my best friends
and not lose a single game, that is something I will never forget. The relationships on that
team, from players to coaches, were exceptional compared to any other team I had
previously been a part of.
What steps did you take each day, each practice, each game to stay focused on your ultimate goal
of winning a title?
Andrew – The key in those championship seasons was just coming in day in and day out and putting
in the work. The importance of practice was always stressed, especially by Coach
Gormley this past year at the high school. Coming in we weren’t sure what we were
going to do as a team, with young guys and new players, but we went in every day and
worked hard. It was just about staying focused each and every day to work towards the
greater goal of a championship.
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.
Andrew – I have been very fortunate to have received exceptional coaching from when I first started
playing sports. They always worked to get the best out of me and get me to be the best player
that I could be at the time.
How difficult is it to shake off a bad game? What advice have you been given?
Andrew – I’d say the biggest thing is to learn from it and then leave it in the past and move on.
Always look to the next practice and game as an opportunity to get better and improve. I’ve
always been told to just forget about a bad performance and think about the next game.
Do you still get nervous and anxious on Opening Day or in a playoff game or a championship
Andrew – Those nerves never totally go away, especially on an opening day game. They have been
eased once you get used to high pressure situations, but they never totally go away. Sometimes it
doesn’t even hit you until you step onto the field, but knowing you’ve been in that situation
before definitely helps in those intense spots.
Who is the first person you look to after the final out is recorded?
Andrew – I would say I definitely look for my parents in the stands. They have always been there to
support me throughout my athletic career and in my life. Especially my dad, who has coached
me in football and baseball since I was very young and who has always tried to get me better as a
What has it meant to you personally to win state titles for the school you are representing?
Andrew – It definitely means a lot to me to represent our town through success in sports. North
Kingstown has always been big in athletics and knowing that we can continue with that legacy is
a great feeling. We pride ourselves in sports at NK and having success in multiple sports is a
great feeling when we know we are representing our school and our town.
Does winning on the field of play translate into your confidence as a person?
Andrew – Winning definitely helps build confidence off the field. Knowing that you’ve had success
in multiple sports over the years with several teams is an unbelievable feeling, and being able to
celebrate that success with your teammates and to have built those relationships is something
special. Whenever you see them it takes you back to those seasons that you’ve had. And overall
because we live in a big sports town, knowing that we brought home those championships and
memories back to NK is a huge confidence booster.
Lets get competitive, who wins what?
- 50 yard dash – Me
- Evan has the best shot at striking all of us out
- Best student – Me
- Best overall athlete – all of us are equally talented in the multiple sports we play
- Biggest prankster – Brady for sure
Huge thanks to Andrew and his parents Dino and Amy for taking part in this interview. Best of luck Andrew in your academic and athletic journey, still being written at North Kingstown High School classrooms, gridirons, and soon to be baseball fields of Rhode Island.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of “If You Want To Compete for Championships, You Need A Strong B-A-S-E”, featuring the “S” of BASE – Brady Spitzer.
And if you missed Part 1 – Will Brew, here is a link to that article.