The new North Kingstown High baseball coach may have big cleats to fill, but he is no stranger to Lischio Field – or to the players that comprise the Skippers’ winning program.
Bill Brew, the former NK assistant, has stepped into a new role around the diamond – his first as a head high school coach. Brew takes over for longtime NK Coach Kevin Gormley, who retired last spring after he led the Skippers to back-to-back state championships and developed several Division I college players.
Brew, 52, is looking to continue right where Gormley left off.
“Coach Gormley and his assistant Anthony Ucci had an amazing way to teach and motivate high school players and get them out of their comfort zone and do things they probably didn’t think they could do,” said Brew.
“If you’re a smart coach, you never think you know enough and at every practice I learned something new, a new way to teach, a new skill, a new strategy to evaluate, so I really went to school with every practice and learned how they operated,” said Brew. “They were fantastic teachers of the game to players, but they were also very good teachers to coaches.”
The transition is expected to be smooth. Not only has Brew been on the sidelines under Gormley since 2020, he has been coaching the NK players since they hit off a tee in Wickford Little League.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity (to be the head coach), especially with the group of kids that I’ve been coaching forever,” said Brew. “It’s going to be kind of nice to see them through their high school careers.”
Brew began coaching high school baseball in Rhode Island more than two decades ago. When he started teaching biology at Coventry High School 21 years ago, he joined head coach Leo Bush’s staff and spent more than a half dozen years as the Oakers’ assistant.
When his own sons started to play hockey and baseball, Brew stepped away to be with them and began coaching at the youth level. After he returned to Coventry for one season in 2018 and helped lead the Oakers to the state finals, he got his first head coaching job at Wickford Middle School. His team of eighth graders went undefeated and won the state middle school championship. They’ve been together ever since. When the players headed to high school the following year, Brew joined them at NK and became Gormley’s assistant.
That same group of players who won the state middle school title now make up the seniors on this year’s NK squad.
“I’ve had them forever,” said Brew. “The group I have now is the group that I had through their youth programs and into middle schools and high school.. So it’s a nice flow of players that we’ve had close contact with for a long time. I know the players very well and I think they know me very well so that part of the team dynamic I’m very comfortable with. I think we have some good energy there.”
North Kingstown is going to the state finals. Error on a ground ball by Will Brew scores the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. pic.twitter.com/qWq5soTko4
— William Geoghegan (@RhodyWill) June 20, 2021
One of those seniors is his own son Will Brew.
Being the coach’s son can be a tough dynamic.
“Once we step on that field he’s not really my father anymore…he’s just a coach,” said Will. “There’s no bias against me. I have to work hard and so does the whole team.”
“I think anything Will’s gotten he’s earned. If anything I am probably harder on him. When I first started to work with Kevin, I said, ‘If Will’s not part of the plan, then he’s not part of the plan. Simple as that.’”
But Will was part of the plan. Will is senior captain and three year starting second baseman.
Will’s dedication, work ethic and desire to get better has led to his success. The dents in the Brew’s basement walls are proof.
Brew set up “a shooting range” in the basement so his sons could shoot pucks and Will could hit balls off a tee inside in the cold, winter months.
“We spent a lot of time down there. As I grew, I obviously hit it a lot harder and sometimes my bat would take up the ceiling and it would get roughed up,” said Will
“I have a basement right that is utterly destroyed,” said Brew. “The drop ceiling and some of the drywall have certainly taken a beating.”
Brew isn’t complaining.
“That’s what it’s about…putting the work in all year long. You can’t get better just during a two hour practice session in a few months,” said Brew. “If you’re going to try to compete at the Division I level you can’t just pick up your glove in March and put it down at the end of the season.”
Will isn’t the only NK senior who has put in the extra work and is returning to the starting lineup for the third straight year. He is joined by Evan Beattie (pitcher/first base), Robinson Lamond (centerfield), and Andrew Ciarniello (shortstop). All were big contributors to NK’s consecutive state championships in 2021 and 2022 and return to their starting positions this year.
Is there pressure to three peat?
“I don’t think there’s that much pressure,” said Will. “I think we know what we are capable of and as long as we keep working hard I think we’ll have a good shot.”
Brew has no plans to make significant changes to the already successful program.
“I have my own approach with players and ways to motivate them,” he added, “but as a whole I am not going to stray too far from the winning formula.”