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 “E” in B-A-S-E: Evan Beattie.
Tell me about your first sports experience – baseball, hockey, football, basketball?
When I was five years old I played tee ball for Wickford Little League at the old Wickford Elementary field. Andrew was one of my teammates. I remember a bunch of kids huddling around just having fun and I joined in and was having a great time. I knew I was going to fall in love with the game of baseball.
Were you a talented kid growing up playing sports or did you struggle at first?
- When I first started baseball, I typically did not struggle much. When it came to basketball however, I did. Football came pretty simple to me because I was a smart, bigger kid.
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?
- One of my biggest moments in sports was when we were playing the Middle School State Championship in 8th grade. I had the start on the mound and I was determined to go the distance. It had been a pitchers duel as we were in the fourth inning and it was a scoreless ballgame, there only being 3 combined hits at the time. I got into a jam in the bottom of the fourth and the bases were loaded with two outs. I had battled back from a 3-0 count to make it a full count. I’m pretty sure it was around a seven pitch at-bat. I remember stepping off the mound to take a breath and looking up and seeing everyone on their feet, on both sides of the bleachers. I stepped on the mound and shook off a curveball, as I was confident in my fastball. I remember throwing the pitch, and it seemed like it took forever to get the plate. It was a high and away fastball and the batter swung and missed. The crowd went nuts and my confidence rose for the rest of the game.
What was your first experience with loss or a setback as part of a team?
- My first experience of a loss or a setback was when I was in AAA in Little League. I was nine years old. My dad and Andrew’s dad were our coaches. We had rallied ourselves into the championship after a great undefeated season up to that point. We were playing Brady’s team in the championship. Since we were in the winner’s bracket we had two chances to beat the other team. We ended up losing both games and it just left me in shock because we hadn’t lost a game in so long. I remember watching the other team celebrate. That was the first experience I remember of an important and memorable loss in my athletic career.
What was your first experience with winning a championship or league title as a team?
- My first experience winning a championship was when I was 9 years old in the Fall Ball season. We had lost the first two games and then never looked back, finishing the season undefeated. It was a cold morning and we were playing the Wickford A team. We were the Wickford B team. It was the first time two Wickford teams were playing against each other in the championship. That team was older than us and bigger than us. We didn’t let it faze us and we ended up winning in 4 innings by a 10 run rule. The feeling was amazing.
In your opinion, is there such a thing as “moral victories” in sports?
- There is such a thing as “moral victories”. If you are able to learn something from an experience, and you benefit from that, I consider it a moral victory, no matter how big or small.
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?
- In football in my Sophomore year, we had a terrible season, going 2-3 during the COVID season and lost the first round in the playoffs. It didn’t sit right with me or others. There was no chemistry and it led to practices and games not being fun. We were determined as a team to come back stronger and build relationships with each other for the next season. And the result, we won the Super Bowl only losing one game.
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?
- Yes. You have to practice how you would play in a game. Practice at game speed. Perfect practice makes perfect. Coach Brew was the first person to teach us this.
You play multiple sports. Have you always competed in multiple sports?
- For most of my life I have played multiple sports, whether it was baseball and basketball, baseball and flag football, or baseball and tackle football.
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?
- Playing football translates to baseball from your stance, to balance, to conditioning, to focus, to mental strength, to physical strength.
Based on your athletic history, do you feel that playing multiple sports has had a positive impact on your baseball ability?
- I think playing multiple sports has had a positive impact on my baseball ability because I have been able to get stronger, faster, and in a better condition mentally and physically during games from playing multiple sports.
From a mental standpoint, which sport is the most grueling preparation wise – pre-game, practice time, in game adjustments.
- Baseball, by far, is the most grueling when it comes to preparation. From practice to game, it is a grind.
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?
- During the football season, I only focus on football and in the baseball season I only focus on baseball. I do not play any sports in the winter so I count that as my complete off-season. I lift, do baseball workouts. I hit and throw consistently.
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?
- In balancing my work load, I like to focus on the sport I am playing at the time. I feel like looking at a season 3-6 months in the future gets you excited, but it can also make you distracted and not as focused on the sport you are currently playing.
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?
- Our 8th grade team for Middle School stands out to me the most. Yes we won the championship and went undefeated, but we also had a great time in doing so. Everyday we looked forward to what Coach Brew had planned for practice. Two Pitch was our favorite. The team would be divided into two randomly and you would get two pitches per at-bat, no matter what. 6 outs per half inning. Losing team always had to clean the field. That team was so memorable because we were able to fool around and have fun and trash talk, but we were also able to get the task done at hand efficiently.
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?
- Everyday we would get our work done in school, but we were always thinking, talking, or playing baseball. It was a part of our everyday lives and it was amazing. We were always laser focused.
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.
- I would have to thank all of my coaches. Coach Brew has been the most instrumental in my baseball career, and I couldn’t thank him enough. Along with him are Coach Gormley and Ucci, who have been my coaches since 6th grade. Practice with those three is always a fun time.
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 game?
- Shaking off a bad game is difficult, but you have to be able to. If you don’t, it will come back to haunt you and you can easily fall into a slump. Advice that I have been given to move on is to focus on tomorrow and practice. Don’t worry about anything in the past because you can’t change it.
Can you name a time or player or situation where you paused a game, called time out to help a struggling teammate? Maybe a pep talk on the mound or on the sideline?
- When I am playing third and I see my pitcher having a rough time, I often like to call a timeout and walk up to the mound and try to have a conversation with my pitcher. We could be talking about anything, but I just want to get him to be able to relax and know that he can trust his defense. I often like to add in a joke or two to calm him down.
Define leadership on a team. What characteristics make a good leader or captain on a sports team?
- Leadership is holding each other accountable for their actions and helping teammates out if they are struggling. A leader always looks out for his teammates and does not talk down to them. They give tips, rides to practices, and do not act as if they are superior. They help their teammates out with anything.
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?
- I always get nervous for at least the first inning in a big game, especially if I am pitching. The butterflies in my stomach often calm down after a few pitches and swings, but I love the rush I get.
What are some things you do to de-stress pre-game so you can focus on “doing your job” on the field of play?
- To de-stress pre-game, I like to listen to music and get comfortable. I like to talk to my teammates and relax and try to enjoy myself.
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?
- After the final out of a big game, I always look for either Andrew, Brady, or Will as we have been playing together for so long. Or I look for Coach Brew, cause he’s the best.
What has it meant to you personally to win state titles for the school you are representing?
- It has meant a lot to me to be able to win state titles for my school because they know that we are the real deal and take our sport very seriously and hold ourselves accountable.
Does winning on the field of play translate into your confidence as a person?
- Winning on the field translates to my confidence as a person. Especially after winning a big game, I feel as though I am on top of the world.
Ok, let’s get competitive here between the 4 of you:
- 50 yard dash – Andrew, then me, Spitz and Brew are in a close tie for slowest.
- Strikeout the other 3 – Me
- Best Student – Andrew
- Best Overall Athlete – Andrew
- Biggest Prankster – Me or Spitz. Probably Spitz though.
Where do you see yourself academically, athletically, and/or professionally in 2 years to 4 years?
- Academically and athletically, I see myself playing college baseball in the next two to four years. It has always been my dream.
Huge thanks to Evan and his parents Chris and Heather for taking part in this interview. Best of luck Evan 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.
This concludes my 4 part series of interviews with 4 outstanding North Kingstown student athletes who have helped form the BASE of a fantastic run of championship excellence here in North Kingstown sports. Huge thanks to Will Brew, Andrew Ciarniello, Brady Spitzer, and Evan Beattie for taking time out of your busy schedules to take part in this story, which is still being written on the hockey rinks, gridirons, and soon to be baseball fields of Rhode Island. Championship level answers by champions in the community, in the classroom, and on the field. Once again, best of luck in all of your academic and athletic endeavors.