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 “S” in B-A-S-E: Brady Spitzer.
Tell me about your first sports experience – baseball, hockey, football, basketball?
Brady – My first sports experience was playing little league baseball at Feurer Park. I’ll always remember playing games on Saturday mornings there.
Were you a talented kid growing up playing sports or did you struggle at first?
Brady – I was a pretty talented kid when I first started playing sports, nothing special but I got a hang of anything I played quickly.
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?
Brady – The first real big moment I had playing sports was probably a home run in little league in the playoffs against a good friend of mine. I’ll always remember that moment, everything felt surreal.
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.
Brady – I was introduced early on during football, watching and playing it. Obviously not everyone is gonna get the ball on the same play, but if everyone does there job, you’re gonna be successful.
What was your first experience with loss or a setback as part of a team?
Brady – My first experience with a setback was 10-11 district baseball. We started off really hot and we needed to win 1 out of our next 2 games to win the district, and we got swept. Everyone was really down but in the big picture it taught us about how to deal with adversity.
What was your first experience with winning a championship or league title as a team?
Brady – My first experience with winning as a team was Triple A baseball in Wickford Little League. We really glued together pretty well in my eyes for being a bunch of elementary school kids. We all appreciated that thrill of success a lot.
In your opinion, is there such a thing as “moral victories” in sports?
Brady – Well in my eyes it comes down to winning and losing, but there are definitely personal achievements that can be accomplished in sports. But, it’s important to never put individual goals over team goals.
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?
Brady – A game that didn’t sit right with me and motivated me and well as a lot of my teammates was a middle school playoff baseball game in 2018. We played Curtis Corner and we lost 3-1, going in as a heavy underdog. Still, losing anytime hurt and we beat them next year and went on to win the championship.
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?
Brady – Absolutely, again, the next year we beat Curtis Corner in a high scoring game (9-8 I think) in their place. That felt as good as any win I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
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?
Brady – No doubt, as the saying goes, practice how you play. You can’t just flip the switch for a game if you never had it on at practice. You gotta do everything with high intensity so the games come easy.
You play multiple sports. Have you always competed in multiple sports?
Brady – I’ve always played at least 2 sports at a time, baseball and football being the main two.
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?
Brady – Each sports requires different skills, and by practicing new skills it just makes us more prone to have success in any sport we participate in.
Based on your athletic history, do you feel that playing multiple sports has had a positive
impact on your baseball ability?
Brady – Absolutely. Baseball is the hardest sport on earth. I mean if you fail 7/10 times at the plate you are a hall of famer. So if you can build any experience with new traits and skills it’s only gonna help.
From a mental standpoint, which sport is the most grueling preparation wise – pre-game,
practice time, in game adjustments.
Brady – The most grueling is probably football. It’s a physical game and you have two be dominant in a physical and mental standpoint to win. You could be the stronger and faster team, but of you can’t handle a team’s offensive game plan, you will not win.
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
Brady – For sure, weightlifting and training has been something I’ve implied on a consistent basis since I was in 6th grade. I’ve always done on field drills since I was little, but I’ve weightlifted all summer and winter when I wasn’t playing 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?
Brady – Keeping myself in shape is a big one, I lift during my seasons just not intensely. Also doing any on field drills are important when I have any free time.
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?
Brady – My favorite championship I’ve ever won was that middle school state championship. That team was so tightly knit and we all bonded. From top to bottom, everyone played a huge role. Always gonna be my favorite championship.
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?
Brady – We went out to practice everyday at 2:30 after school, and we had a routine that consisted of working on BP, positional work, bunts, and game like situations. We did all these drills throughout the week, and we didn’t break this cycle at all.
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.
Brady – Coach Brew is one of my favorite coaches ever. He always kept us focused, as well as let us be ourselves and have fun. He prepared us so well and always put us in the best positions as a team. I’ll say this; doesn’t matter what sport, I’d play for Coach Brew everyday of the week.
How difficult is it to shake off a bad game? What advice have you been given to help get
you through a tough time post game that helped you and motivated you for the next
Brady – It’s a simple process to get over a bad game, but it takes a lot of strength to due so. You gotta have a short memory in sports, after success and failure. I always try and learn from what I did wrong because I don’t wanna have it happen again. After I realize my mistake, I get over the game and throw it in the rear view mirror.
Define leadership on a team. What characteristics make a good leader or captain on a sports team?
Brady – Leaders don’t necessarily have the best physical attributes, but they find a way to get their guys fired up and play as one. Leaders have always been mentally strong, team first, and role models for their teammates, at least I’ve noticed that for all the leaders I’ve been around.
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?
Brady – Absolutely. It’s not a real nervousness, but it’s a weightless feeling that always reminds me of playing sports as a little kid. I always get giddy before games, no doubt. But once the game gets underway, I’m ready to roll.
What are some things you do to de-stress pre-game so you can focus on “doing your
job” on the field of play?
Brady – I routinely do one of three things. 1, crack jokes with my teammates, 2 envision success on the field, and 3, just jump around like a little kid. I get giddy because I get excited and I really get thrilled to play.
Does winning on the field of play translate into your confidence as a person?
Brady – Winning only increases confidence, but if I don’t win I’m not gonna lose confidence in other aspects of life. I trust myself and I don’t need a W next to my name to have full confidence in myself.
Ok, let’s get competitive here between the 4 of you:
○ 50 yard dash, who wins? – Andrew
○ Who can strike out the other 3 hitters, no problem? – Evan can strike out all three of us
○ Best student – Will/Andrew are probably the best students
○ Best overall athlete – best overall athlete is probably Andrew
○ Biggest prankster – I’d say I’m the biggest prankster. Always looking for a laugh here or there.
Where do you see yourself academically, athletically, and/or professionally in 2 years to 4 years?
Brady – In the near future I know I’ll be in college, I’ll continue to pursue an athletic career, and I’ll look to see what is held in store for me. I hope to be in sports all my life, no matter playing or just working in them.
Huge thanks to Brady and his parents Kyle and Melisa for taking part in this interview. Best of luck Brady 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.
And stay tuned for the final installment of “If You Want To Compete for Championships, You Need A Strong B-A-S-E,” featuring the “E” of BASE – Evan Beattie. And if you missed Parts 1 and 2, here are the links: