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For Lancers Elianne del Campo: Good Things come in small packages

For Lancers' Elianne del Campo
Good Things Come in Small Packages




You don't want to run into Brookfield Central Elianne del Campo on the tennis court. That's because the diminutive sophomore is the total package.

del Campo was born in Madrid, Spain and grew up in Mexico before moving to Brookfield 5 years ago. Despite her 5-foot, 2 inch frame, she was a handful for her opponents her freshman year.

del Campo finished with a 25-5 record and made it to state as a special qualifier. She split two matches - beating senior Marissa Marks of Germantown (20-6), 6-2, 6-3 and losing to 10th seeded senior Catherine Lindsay (23-8) of Eau Claire Memorial, 6-1, 6-0.

Having finished second at sectional, del Campo was not aware of the special qualifying rule.

"I thought you had to win sectionals to go to state," she said. "I was bummed out. I was training all season and I didn't make state. When I realized I made special qualifier I was really surprised and excited."

Making it as a special qualifier is not a slam dunk and sometimes there are politics involved as coaches on the committee push for their own players.

"You never know about special qualifier," veteran Coach Dave Steinbach said. "Our hope was that she'll make it as the No. 2 player from our sectional but she didn't win the finals. The committee pours over the season record with a fine tooth comb. You just hope she has enough wins during the season to be a special qualifier, which she did."

del Campo enjoyed her first state experience.

"They're were so many people there," she recalled. "I didn't expect so many people there watching your game. There were so many courts. It was so professional. I was impressed. It was a great experience. I had a lot of fun. I knew a lot of coaches I had seen before and they were rooting for me. It was really nice."

Coming in as a freshman, Elianne (pronounced el-e-n) knew the Greater Metro was a tough conference.

"My teammates had said we had the toughest conference in the whole state," she recalled. "I was getting really nervous, plus I knew some of the people I was going to play against, so I was aware of it."

del Campo earned All-Conference honorable mention after finishing third in the tournament. She lost to Brookfield East's Emily Horneffer, 7-5, 6-2, and beat Sussex Hamilton's Melina Mertos, 6-0, 6-2.

"Coach says 'I'm little, but I'm mighty,' even though I'm kind of small, I really go for it all on the tennis court," Elianne said of her style.

Photo-By Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Brookfield Central's Elianne del Campo qualified for state last year as a freshman.

She started playing tennis at 5 years old as her father took her to their club in Spain.

"I've be playing ever since," she said. "I was little and playing in little tournaments all the time as well as with my parents (Alfonso, Elianne) and my tennis coach."

After moving to Mexico and then to Wisconsin, Elianne went to Brookfield Elementary and Wisconsin Hills, while playing at Elite Sports Club.

del Campo talked about her love of the game.

"When you hit a shot and it goes in, it's the most comforting feeling ever," she said. "You are moving all the time. When you are concentrating on your own and you have all the pressure in the world (on you), when you do something right, you know you did it all my yourself. It's comforting to know you are doing well."

Steinbach first saw Elianne as a 7th or 8th grader.

"I scout all of the local programs," he said. "When I see players who are talented, I ask who they are and where are going to school. I was pleased to find out who she was and where she was going."

When asked when he thought she was something special he smiled and said "When I saw her."

So did her success as a freshman surprise him?

"No, not at all," he said. "Because I knew she was good. She is very positive, has good fundamentals and she's a competitor."

del Campo talked about her strengths and what she needs to work on.

"Aggressiveness. I'm really aggressive," she said. "I'm aggressive mentally and physically.

"But I need to get more mental toughness; to not get too nervous before a match. Mental toughness is really the No. 1 thing I want to work on. Coach gives some good advice on how to work on it. With the more matches I play I would feel more confident and get less nervous along the way. It's a time thing."

Playing No. 2 singles and sometimes No. 1, despite being a freshman, didn't really put any pressure on Elianne.

"I didn't feel that much pressure," she said. "I was just going to do my best whether if I was No. 1, No. 2, No. 3. I was just going to play my best - there was no pressure."

We’ve been blessed with talented players here. When they’re exceptionally talented, they can make the top of the lineup. They have to be exceptional because our program is pretty strong.”

--- Coach Dave Steinbach

del Campo is hoping to build off such a great freshman year.

"I feel that I'm a little more confident this year," she said. "I made it last year (to state) and I'm hoping to get back this year. There's a little pressure of making it again. I feel confident knowing about I'm going to go against. Who is going to be my toughest competition. I'm going to give it my best like last year and a little bit more."

Steinbach feels del Campo should be more confident, but she still has to be careful of setting the bar too high.

Photo-By Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Brookfield Central's Elianne del Campo proves good things come in small packages.

"I would hope it would help her confidence," the veteran coach said. "Sometimes it helps their confidence and sometimes they set their goal so high they get a little tight because maybe they can't reach them. You have to make sure their goals and expectations are fairly close."

Steinbach then talked about what del Campo needs to work on and her strong points.

"I think all athletes need to work on their all-around game," he said. "She has room for improvement in every aspect. She takes the opportunity and the point if the set-up is there. She'll try to hit a shot to land the point. Instead of just waiting for the opponent to make a mistake."

Despite being only a sophomore, Elianne talked about her view on leadership.

"I really try to be a leader as much as I can," she said. "I try to help my teammates. Even though I'm not the oldest, I try to act old. Have more leadership with the team and try to help them.

"I am always there for my team. Every time they need something I always try help them find the way to be the best they can be. But everyone on the team is a leader, some more so than others. Everyone is really good with helping each other. Everyone is comfortable with each other."

Steinbach sees good things from del Campo.

"That's a good answer because we do have some strong senior leadership," he said. "She's in the wings, waiting for her turn I think. She's glad to help out whenever I have her demonstrate the skills. I give all my kids the opportunity to display their leadership.

"They choose their captains at the end of the season rather than naming a captain at the beginning of the year. This way the whole team can chip in and show their leadership skills and hopefully it helps the whole team camaraderie."

"We've had players come in and be No. 1 as a freshman. Sasha Semina was one" http://preps2pros.net/2016/10/06/sasha-semina-a-young-lady-with-many-talents/).

"It's wonderful when it happens. We've been blessed with talented players here. When they're exceptionally talented, they can make the top of the lineup. They have to be exceptional because our program is pretty strong."

And Elianne del Campo fits the bill.


HANGING WITH ELIANNE del CAMPO

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Rice & Paella
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Age of Adeline' Scary Movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Friends'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  World History & English
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Menorca Island, off Spain
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Play Piano
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Going to WIAA State Tournament as a freshman
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE:  Wants to end college, play tennis and study criminal law

















DESPITE A LATE START, CALEB’S JUST WRIGHT FOR EAST

DESPITE A LATE START, CALEB'S JUST WRIGHT FOR EAST




He swam and he wrestled growing up, but Brookfield East All-Greater Metro Conference Defensive End Caleb Wright didn't play football until his freshman year.

So what took you so long, Caleb?

"Football was something I always wanted to do," he said. "I just felt I didn't have the time for it. Swimming was a big thing for me. When I decided I wasn't going to swim anymore, that's when I decided to play football.

"All my friends were playing football. They highly encouraged me to play football because I was a bigger person. I fell in love with the sport - the physicality of it. I was able to showcase my athleticism."

Wright still was able to wrestle at East and he finished fifth in state at 220 as a junior this past season. As several football players do, he also went out for track and took second at state on the 4x2 relay team last spring.

East coach Ben Farley remembered the first time he saw Caleb play football.

"It was a summer workout as a ninth grader," he said. "He looked more like a senior in high school physically. Then I learned this was his first year of playing football. We knew we had this great body frame we could work with but he was also someone really raw."

Wright played on the freshman team and was promoted for the playoffs his first year. Then as a sophomore, he had 24 solo tackles, 39 assisted tackles for a total of 63 tackles. He also had 11 tackles for losses and 6 sacks, making a big impression.

Caleb pointed out it took an injury to make him a defensive lineman.

"Initially I was a linebacker and wide receiver," he said. "One of our defensive lineman got hurt and was out for the season so they moved me to defensive lineman and then that's when I knew I was really going to help the team out. That was more of my natural position and I just got the hang of it quick.

"I like how it's very versatile. You can be fast and strong. There's a mental side to it too where he have to be mentally tough and smart at the same time."

He helped the Spartans finish second with a 6-1 record, 10-2 overall record, losing to Homestead, 35-25, in a level 3 playoff game to close out his sophomore year.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- When talking about Brookfield East's Caleb Wright, the world athleticism always seems to come up.

"He has the frame, the height, the body," Farley said of Wright playing defense. "We ask a lot of our defensive ends and we saw potential there with Caleb. It was a natural fit for him to come along and learn the game of football and also to use his physicality at the younger levels and then progress through the ranks. We just thought it was a good fit."

Last year East finished third behind Brookfield Central and Marquette, co-GMC champs, with a 5-2 record, but the Spartans went 12-2 overall, winning their final six games.

The Spartans finished that streak by defeating Monona Grove, 42-36, to win the WIAA State Football Championship.

Caleb was first-team All-Greater Metro Conference Defensive End, getting 44 tackles and 44 assisted tackles for a total of 88 tackles. He had 9 tackles for loss, a team-leading 8 sacks and a fumble recovery.

"You look at this past spring in track. He's 235 pounds and he's winning hurdle races, he's throwing and he's in relays," Farley said. "You just know that you've got a really good athlete. I don't think there was one particular moment here or there (that we knew he how good he was), but it's how he carries himself. I was really impressed with him."

"My biggest strength is being a leader on the field," he said. "When the guys are down after something, bringing them back up. That's my biggest strength. Also to be a good role model as a football player. Use it as a tool for younger people to look up to."

He then talked about his physical strengths on the field.

"I'm a faster lineman. I use my speed to get around the edge," he said. "I have a quick reaction time to deal with lead blocks and get through."

But he knows he's not perfect.

“You meet the young man; he is humble, down to earth, a good kid, smart and extremely hard working. We knew we had the potential for something special. Caleb has done nothing but work hard these last four years.”

--- Coach Ben Farley

"I want to work on my durability," he added, "So I can go 100 percent every single play."

Farley focused on Wright's athleticism as well as his leadership skill when asked about his strong points.

"His strength, speed and quickness. You look at those athleticism traits," he said. "When we test, he will test off the charts. He's good in the 40, the bench press, squat, clean, those types of things.

Caleb and (linebacker Brad) Dati were some of the few underclassmen who served as captains last year (Farley has game captains, not season-long captains).

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Brookfield East's Caleb Wright will also take his skills to the offensive side of the ball, playing some running back this season.

"It was really fun to see him grow in his leadership role and become more vocal," Farley said. "He's always been a really good leader by example; being the first guy in line, challenging other kids. It's fun to watch and see his development in the leadership aspect."

Wright feels leadership is a very important part of his job, recalling his earlier years.

"It's extremely important. I know, because when I was a freshman I looked up to people who set good examples," he said. "So now I can be that person and people look up to me in a certain way."

Caleb talked about the type of leader he is.

"I'm a leader who likes to lead from the back and give people the right tools to lead themselves.

"When I see something that can use a little fixing technique-wise, I'm not afraid to go and tell them 'Hey, this is how the coach wants us to do it. Go with what the coach said because he's our coach."

He will also work on the mental part of the game with a player.

"If someone has an attitude situation, you do it where you're not pushing a person where it's not doing them any good," he said. "I do tell them to keep their head up. There are more plays to be made."

Caleb will probably see more time on offense this season with the loss of super back Sam Santiago-Lloyd.

"Last year I also played a little bit of fullback and now this year I will also be playing defensive end and running back. It was my first year where I really got reps at running back.

"This year I'm excited to play running back. It's a fun position. You get to run around and hit people. It's definitely kind of nerve-wracking because I'm kind of new at the position. I'm not used to changing direction and avoid people basically. I'm definitely getting the hang of it and I'm confident of myself getting the job done.

"I definitely enjoy defense more. I'm not the biggest fan of trying to run a lot, just being a bigger guy."

But Farley knows where Caleb's strength lies.

"He is someone who is extremely physical, hard worker," he said. "A very conditioned athlete. This year he will still be at defensive end, but we'll move him around in the defensive line because he is such a strong asset for us and a tough block.

"We also could be seeing him playing a little fullback. We can see him running the football, just taking advantage of his skill sets. This year from the start we're starting to develop his skills on the offensive side of the football."

Farley also talked about Caleb as a person.

"You meet the young man; he is humble, down to earth, a good kid, smart and extremely hard working," he said. "We knew we had the potential for something special. Caleb has done nothing but work hard these last four years."


HANGING WITH CALELB WRIGHT

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Meatloaf
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  'Red Hot Chili Peppers,' Alternate Rock and Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Footloose,' Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Walking Dead'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Up North in Wisconsin
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch movies, hang with his family
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield Central
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  His junior year overall. Winning State Division 2 Football Championship, finishing second in state on 4x2 relay and fifth in state at 220 pounds in wrestling.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Has a scholarship to play football at Northern Illinois and wants to study Criminal Justice.

















FREE-LANCE WRITING OPPORTUNITY GONE

For the first time in 15 years, I won’t be covering prep sports this season. I learned this about a one and a half months ago.

When Gannett purchased the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – thus NOW Newspapers – they turned the web sites and the Journal Sentinel sports pages into USA TODAY II. For example, their MLB page shows scores which are 2 days old because of earlier deadlines.

Then they fired some outstanding sports reporters and photographers at NOW.  At first I was told it wouldn’t affect free-lancers and about a month and a half ago I received an email that said Gannett canned the free-lance budget. They seem to think ‘No one cares about prep sports.’  They compared the website ‘clicks’ on the Packers, Brewers, Bucks and Badgers to prep sports. Now they took away TMJ Prep Editor Mark Stewarts’ prep free-lance budget.

The bottom line is just that – the bottom line. Quality is no longer the most important thing.  For example, they’re delivery service is worst than ever. I am 68 years old. I love the internet, but I still like my morning paper with my coffee. I went on vacation and when I returned my paper started up 10 days  later than it was supposed to. I couldn’t get through on the phone and I emailed a generic website (heard back a week later).  All I wanted was the paper I paid for already.

I want my paper, so every day I went to the gas station and bought one. They continue to miss me on some Saturday’s, so when I call, they deliver the Saturday paper with the Sunday paper. They seem to miss the point that I don’t want Saturday’s news on Sunday. I want credit.

When I retired June 30, 2016 I subscribed to the Waukesha Freeman, which does a good job covering prep sports, focusing on the Waukesha Schools, but also covering the other county schools.

If you’re reading this, you know I started a website called preps2pros.net and I did it for one reason – I wanted to write feature stories about some of the top prep kids and tell their stories. Last year I started on Aug. 18 – my birthday – and wrote 51 stories about athletes from Brookfield, Wauwatosa and New Berlin.  I do this because these kids keep me young and every kid I met were great people as well as good kids.

So you might not see me covering a prep game, but I will be continuing my web site and will attend games when available.

After-all I am one of those people who still enjoy prep sports.

 

LESZCZYNSKI BROTHERS LEAD BROOKFIELD CENTRAL FOOTBALL TEAM

LESZCZYNSKI BROTHERS TO LEAD LANCERS' DEFENDING CHAMPS





If you want to talk about Drew Leszczynski's outstanding sophomore season, you better chat with his big brother Nick. Drew lets his actions speak louder than words - much louder.

Last season, Drew started on the varsity at quarterback and led the Lancers to a share of the Greater Metro Conference Championship with a 6-1 mark and a 10-2 overall record - as a sophomore.

He completed 82-of-132 passes, 62.1 per cent, for 1406 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging almost 128 passing yards per game. He also ran for 539 yards in 100 carries (5.4 average), 3 touchdowns and caught 4 passes for 45 yards and a score.

That's a combined total of 1,990 yards and 19 touchdowns.

As a result he was named first-team All-Greater Metro Conference as one of 4 quarterbacks, the other 3 being seniors.

"I've been watching him play as long as I can remember," Nick said. "And I know under pressure, Drew is at his highest level - even if it might not seem like it when you're talking to him. You don't know how confident he is in his own mind. I know he will get the job done. He's been able to show his best with the best as long as I can remember."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Last year was the first time Drew and Nick Leszczynsky played on the same team together.

Nick was thrilled with playing with his brother for the first time last season.

"I think it's awesome," he said. "We played baseball or we played pick up games on the basketball court outside. We've always been competitive. That's how our relationship has grown a lot. Football, being able to play with him - this is the highest level we've ever got to play together - so it's really cool to see him do well and help our team out a lot because I know what kind of athlete he is and he's always been."

When Drew was asked what he likes best about playing quarterback, some of that confidence came through.

"I like being in control," he said quickly.

When asked what parts of being a quarterback he liked, he covered all the bases.

"I like passing. I like running too. I like both," he said. "I like football because you can really show off all your skills. You have to pass, you have to run, you have to be smart."

When asked what was it like winning the conference his first year, Drew responded.

"I didn’t know what to expect honestly," he said. "So it was awesome that we could win the conference."

We’ve always been competitive. That’s how our relationship has grown a lot. Football, being able to play with him – this is the highest level we’ve ever got to play together – so it’s really cool to see him do well and help our team out a lot because I know what kind of athlete he is and he’s always been.”

--- Nick Leszczynski on playing on the same team as younger brother Drew

Brookfield Central's head man, Jed Kennedy, who was GMC co-coach of the Year last season and Coach of the Year in 2015, watched Drew play in the Jr. Lancers program.

"I saw him as an 8th grader and he was a heck of an athlete," he said. "Looking down the road I could see he was the next guy who was going to be really, really good."

Did his play last season surprise Kennedy at all.

"He didn't surprise me," he said of Drew. "He was doing it long enough. Bottom line is this - some kids get it and some don’t. He's a kid that gets it.

"The big thing is he throws unbelievably hard. He throws a baseball 90 mph. His athleticism is great. It was hard as a sophomore, but now that he's starting to understand the reads. The sky's the limit for him."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC - Drew was named first-team All-Greater Metro Conference as a sophomore at quarterback.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC - Nick (9) is looking to earn All-Greater Metro Conferences for the third year in a row.

Big brother Nick, who also wrestles, plays baseball and Lacrosse, has been a key part of the Lancers on the other side of the ball since his sophomore year.

He will be shooting to make All-Greater Metro Conference for the third year in a row, earning honorable mention as a sophomore and first team last season. More importantly, he will be shooting to win his third straight conference championship.

"It was awesome my sophomore year, playing that first complete game was just a change of pace from what I was used to," he said. "I like being tested and being put to a challenge. Playing in the GMC there are a lot of good players, a lot of solid teams. Winning two years in a row was sweet for me."

Nick had 52 tackles, 16 solo tackles, 7 tackles for losses and an interception as a sophomore at inside linebacker. Last year he had 60 total tackles, 14 solo tackles, 9 tackles for losses, 2 fumbles recovered, 3 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions.

"When I saw him as a freshman the first time, he was a physically old school player," Kennedy said. "He would play downhill, run through the runner. He is an unbelievable clean and tackle linebacker, who is smart and gets the game."

Nick mirrors his coaches thought on his play when asked about what he likes about playing linebacker.

"You have the chance to make every single tackle," he said. "You have a chance to change the game every single play. You have a chance to lead the team. You call plays (Nick gets the defensive call from the defensive coach). You know what the cornerbacks are doing and you know what the D-linemen are doing. It puts me in a position where I can help everybody out."

So it was no surprise when he was asked about his strengths.

"Football IQ," he said. "I'm always leading, knowing what to do and where to be."

Being a senior, Kennedy talked about what kind of leader Nick is.

"He's a vocal leader, high energy, one of our captains," he said. "Guys are looking to him to lead. The past two years he has been huge; one of our best players."

Nick enjoys leadership, but he credited all the seniors with being good leaders.

"It's always something I like to do, but it's knowing when to lead and how to lead," he said. "We have a lot of leaders on the team, so I would never put myself above any of them. It has to come out in a good way when you're saying something to somebody, not putting them down, knowing what to say. "It's very important to me. I can't do my job if I can't make sure everyone is doing their job. But there is not one leader out there, there's nine of us."

Having a year under his belt and playing perhaps the key position, Drew also has picked up his role as a leader.

"It's important. Last year was the first year I really started to become a leader because I set the stuff up for the team basically," he said. "This year I help them too - even more. I think they look up to me."

Nick chipped in and talked about his younger brother's leadership skills.

"You won't see him saying things in the locker room, you won't see him saying things in the film sessions. It's basically a lot of 'in the moment' type of stuff where he knows he has to be confident for the team and help the team out. He knew when to speak as a sophomore."

So the Leszczynski boys will have one more year of playing with each other. They are both looking forward to it.

When Drew was asked what was it like lining up against his brother in practice, he laughed.

"He'll talk 'trash' to me from across the line," he said, and he didn't use the word 'trash.'

Just like a big brother would.


HANGING WITH NICK LESZCZYNSKI

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Cold Sub
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Alternative, Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Shawshank Redemption'
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Jerry Spring
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Cabo, Mexico
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Bonfire with the boys
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning GMC Championship two years in a row
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college, study business and play football.

HANGING WITH DREW LESZCZYNSKI

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Wings
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Alternative, Country Music, Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  Comedies, Action
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Lost
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  History
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Cabo, Mexico
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning GMC as a sophomore quarterback
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college and play football

















For Brookfield’s Mierows, It’s a Family Affair

FOR BROOKFIELD'S MIEROWS

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR




Over the years, I have covered athletes who have sports backgrounds -- parents and kids. But Brookfield's Mierow family has something special going for them.

Jeff and Cathy Mierow met while attending the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. All three of their children - Cara, Mike and Kate - have had successful athletic careers for the Warhawks.

But Mike, who was a catcher on the baseball team, and Kate, a current member of the gymnastics team, did something that was unique - both were members of National Championship teams.

"It's an awesome feeling," Kate said of the brother-sister accomplishment. "I absolutely loved it."

Of course, she was also excited about winning the national title as a team.

"It was the coolest feeling ever," she said. "All the practice all season; we have fun because we love it. It was really cool."

The next day she earned second-team All-American honors by tying for seventh on the uneven parallel bars at the individual finals.

"It took a lot of hard work to get there," she said. "A lot of hours of practice. To show it off on Friday and Saturday was really cool."

Mike was especially happy for his sister's success, not only winning the national team title but also making second-team All-American.

"It was definitely special, especially because of all the injuries she battled through. I was a proud brother."

Submitted Photo - University of Wisconsin - Whitewater --- Kate Mierow's Warhawk gymnastics team won National Title in March and she was second-team All-American.

Cathy, Kate's mom, was a gymnast in high school and didn't miss a high school meet.

She got Kate started in gymnastics when she was 2-3 years old. She was a member of the Salto Gymnastics Club in high school, but did diving for the swimming team at Brookfield Central and made it to state several times.

Her favorite events in gymnastics were the bars and floor, especially enjoying the latter.

"You got to pick your own music, use your favorite songs. It was your own event," Kate explained.

Kate was the WIAC balance beam champion and a national qualifier in the beam as a freshman during Mike's final year at UW-Whitewater.

Did her freshman success surprise her?

"Yes, at the beginning of season I broke one rib on the bars and missed a month and a half," she said. "I participated at conference and finished first in the balance beam."

So how much did it help her confidence going into her sophomore year?

"It boosted my confidence a lot because of the injuries," she recalled. It did help and my teammates were also supportive."

Her sophomore year she tied for 15th in the balance beam in WIAC Championships while competing in the uneven bars, her favorite event, as well. She also earned her second straight WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll recognition and Scholastic All-American recognition for the first time.

This season as a junior she earned two All-WIAC honors for her fourth place finish on uneven parallel bars (9.575) and a tie for third (9.75) for her floor exercise routine at WIAC Championships on March 17.

Then she won the floor exercise in the team portion of the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Team Championship on March 31 with a 9.7 score to contribute to the gymnastics team's first national title since 2014.

She earned second-team All-American honors by tying for seventh on the uneven parallel bars (9.575) at NGCA Individual finals the next day.

If you had a bad game, you always had a sister, who had a bad game or had a bad competition who you could talk to.”

--- Mike Mierow

Big brother Mike, who graduated in 2015, won a national baseball title in 2014.

In that championship season, Mike hit .346 with 32 RBIs and 15 SBs, as he started started 43 games behind the plate. He started a 7-0 win over Emory University in World Series final in Appleton.

Jeff said that 2014 was an amazing year, as his former Brookfield Central team won the 2014 WIAA State Championship. His father, Jeff, was an assistant coach, and it was Kate's senior year in high school.

Mike earned first-team WIAC nominations two straight years, second-team D3baseball.com All-Midwest Region in 2014 and third team All-Midwest Region in 2015.

"(2014) was an awesome as the year before we had a tough loss in 2013," Mike recalled. "We lost a ton of guys, so we needed guys stepping up and it was a cool process to go through."

Photo by David Haberkorn --- Mike Mierow's Warhawk baseball team won the National Title in 2014.

Mike said that he was a better catcher than a hitter when he came to UW-Whitewater so he was gray-shirted gray-shirted (sat out a year).

"We had 100 kids, 15 freshman, and we all worked out in the fall, winter and spring. Two guys made the team. So the rest of us all hung around and worked together. That ended up being the core group in 2014.

"My freshman year I started 75% of the games in right field, probably caught less than 5 games. My sophomore year I caught most of the games, but the team average was about .340 and I hit about .200. You have one bad game and it turns into a bad week. It turned into more of a mental game. I never struggled hitting like that in my entire life. But the team was awesome, so that made it a little bit easier."

The next year Mike changed his mental approach.

"I knew I would have games were I go 0-for-4, but I couldn't make it turn into a 1-for-16. But it's all about winning. Whether I hit .200 or .600, winning is what's important."

Both Mike, Kate and Cara had a great support group, not only among themselves, but from their parents.

"We always tried to watch each others sports," Mike said about growing up. "Believe it or not, Cara was the best baseball player in the family. She gave it up when she was 11 or 12 and started participating in dancing.

"If you had a bad game, you always had a sister, who had a bad game or had a bad competition who you could talk to."

Cara, 2 1/2 years older than Mike, 25, was a senior when Mike was a sophomore. She was a member of the Lancerettes Dance Team and is currently an assistant coach there. She was also a member of the Warhawks Dance Team and performed at halftime of the football team's 4 National Championship games.

Cara is getting married in the fall to a University of Maryland lacrosse player, who she met at Next Level, where she works part-time.

"She's only 5-foot, 2 inches, but she was doing some power lifting stuff," Mike said, the proud brother showing through.

When asked about his relationship with Kate, Mike told a story about when he was 16 years old and he was told to pick up his sister at gymnastics practice. The coach called and said she got hurt on the balance beam and he needed to take her to the hospital.

"She broke her shin bone, fractured it half way across and all the way down," Mike said. "I gained a lot of respect for her that day."

But then respect is something that is not unusual for the Mierow family.


QUESTIONS FOR KATE MIEROW

  • FAVORITE FOOD: Spaghetti
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  'Florida Georgia Line,' Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Bridesmaids,' Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Breaking Bad
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Anatomy
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Florida Keys
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Go outdoors (hiking, fishing, boating)
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  University of Wisconsin - Lacrosse
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning National Gymnastics Championship in March
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Earn undergrad degree (Communication Disorders. Grad degree (Speech Pathology)

QUESTIONS FOR MIKE MIEROW

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Quesadillas
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Waylon Jennings, Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Jeremiah Johnson,' Comedies
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Game of Thrones
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Real Estate Development
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Cooperstown, NY
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Bow hunt
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Winning National Baseball Championship in 2014
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Outside medical sales representative on the East Coast

















BREWERS’ STEARNS STUCK TO HIS GUNS

It was with mixed emotions I watched the trading deadline come to an end with the Milwaukee Brewers basically standing pat and not improving their sinking ship.

The addition of Anthony Swarzak and Jeremy Jeffress can’t hurt an overworked and not too talented bullpen (Jacob Barnes, Oliver Drake, Jared Hughes, Carlos Torres).  Paolo Espino and Wei-Chung Wang haven’t pitched enough to be considered yet.

That leaves you with Corey Knebel and Josh Hader as the closest to ‘sure things.’

Jimmy Nelson and two starting pitchers who don’t look like they’re old enough to shave (Zach Davies, Brent Suter) will hopefully be joined by Chase Anderson and Matt Garza off the disabled list soon. They won’t get you to the playoffs, but they will get you through the season.

Hopefully as they fall out of it, some of the minor league hurlers (Brandon Woodruff) will get an opportunity because Stearns is obviously looking to the future.

How good is the Brewers farm system? Obviously very good because many of the trades that didn’t happen were because other teams wanted their top prospects. Hopefully Stearns’ patience will pay off.

MR. NEGATIVE

I have been called negative because I have said all along that this team was not good enough to win the Central Division. Who cares if they are in first place June 1 or at the All-Star break, it’s where they’re at Oct. 1 that counts.

Sonny Gray was not going to get this team to the World Series and you have to be pretty stupid to think so. I think Stearns and his people have done a fine job since the Brewers are probably one and a half to two years ahead of schedule.

But the bottom line has more to do with the Chicago Cubs, the defending World Champions, than with the Brewers.

The Cubs weren’t playing up to their potential – they proved what they can do last year – and when they did they passed the Brewers. They simply have more talent.

But the other thing was the Cubs are playing to win the World Series – not the division – so they could afford to give up top talent and they did and got Jose Quintana and Justin Wilson, two players the Brewers probably coveted.

WHAT’S NEXT?

You can dream about catching the Cubs but that’s not going to happen. The Brewers need to worry more about St. Louis and Pittsburgh than they do the Cubs.

The Brewers need to get back to playing good baseball, finish second and win over 81 games. Now that would be a good – no make it a great – season.

 

 

Lancers, Michael Hinz both bounce back to have good seasons

LANCERS, ACE PITCHER
MICHAEL HINZ BOTH BOUNCE BACK TO HAVE GOOD SEASONS




Brookfield Central's baseball team came back from a season in which their team resembled a M.A.S.H. unit more than a baseball team. Senior pitcher Michael Hinz, who bounced back from an injury, was perhaps one of the main reasons for it.

The Lancers tied for fourth (11-7) with Menomonee Falls and finished with a 20-12 overall record. Central won the regional title, but lost to Waukesha North, 4-1, in the sectional semi-final.

Leading the way was Hinz, who finished with an 8-1 record and a save, with 5 quality starts and 3 complete games in his 11 games. In 52.2 innings, he fanned 35 hitters, walked 20 and allowed only 7 earned runs, finishing with a 0.94 ERA.

"I was pumped. I couldn't wait to get out there this year, especially missing last season (broken right index finger)," Hinz said, looking back at the Lancers (7-24, 5-15). "I was extremely excited to get out there and play again. I knew we were going to be better than teams thought we would be this year and that's how it turned out.

"I'm extremely happy with my season," said Hinz, the Lancers' only first-team All-Greater Metro Conference selection. "I know going into the year, our goal was to just be above .500. We surpassed that right off the bat. We had a huge win against Tosa East (1-0, 10 innings) early and it just took off from there. Our hitting came around and the pitching was just great. Our team ERA is insane (2.36)."

Veteran Central coach Jeff Bigler talked about what Hinz meant to the Lancers.

Bigler knew Michael would be something special.

"When he came up as a sophomore and pitched a few non-conference games for us, we knew he had a lot of talent," he said. "He has a big frame, a lot of leverage, long arms and we really touted him as a prospect. That's why we brought him up as a sophomore to pitch in the Lancers Invitational. We really looked for big things from him.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Michael Hinz earned first-team All-Greater Metro Conference honors, the only Lancer on first team.

"His role is definitely our No. 1 pitcher, someone we know we can give the ball to where we are so confident you can pick up that vibe when the kids take the field," he said. "Going through our pre-game and after the National Anthem, they get fired up because they know he is going to be around the plate. They know he is going to give them the chance to win every game and the mindset he takes with him on the hill. He just goes after hitters."

Bigler then talked about Hinz's approach.

"I think he's a little unorthodox in the way he delivers the baseball," he said. He's not fundamentally perfect, but he replicates well. He doesn't do things differently. He's able to stay consistent with the location of his pitches more or less. He has a tremendous walk to strikeout ratio and walk per game ratio, which in high school he can not put a better formula together to win games and not walk high school hitters."

It’s about competing. When he gets out there, he just competes. It makes for an atmosphere that gets us all in that frame of mind.”

--- Coach Jeff Bigler

Bigler the explained what he meant by unorthodox when talking about his delivery.

"He has the limbs flying everywhere," he said. "The sidearm release points, the high leg kick. Because of his arm angle he drops down to the side a little bit. You just don't see that in high school. The slider away from you and the two-seam coming on your hands. It's tough for high school hitters to square up."

Hinz's ability to throw strikes is also a key to his success.

"Getting the first pitch over for a strike, getting ahead of the hitters, it's so important," Bigler said. "If you pitch from behind all the time, you are going to have issues. He goes right at people, whether he has to spin his slider for a strike or he throws a fastball for the first pitch, he's getting ahead of the majority of the hitters."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Senior righthander Michael Hinz was 8-1 with a 0.94 ERA.

Hinz brought up another part of his game which he feels strongly about.

"Being able to hit a spot when runners are on," he said. "I'm usually pretty good at getting through the inning. If there are runners on second or third with an out, I usually can get a strikeout, get through tough innings. My composure on the mound is pretty good. After getting runners on I can usually shut it down."

Hinz has been working on his game since Tee-ball when he was 5 years old. He tried out for the Brookfield Bulldogs then and that's where it started for him. He then played select baseball with the Wisconsin Wildcats through 7th and 8th grade.

"My brother (Ryan), I remember watching him. He was really good," said Michael of his older brother who was a star for the Lancers and the Brookfield Bulldogs of the Land O'Lakes. "I kind of wanted to be like that. I loved the sport. It's not too overwhelming. I loved it from the beginning."

Hinz has a variety of pitches and good control, an excellent combination for any pitcher, let alone a high school hurler. He has a fastball, two seamer, and then a slider and he will occasionally mix in a changeup.

"It's really the fastball (80-79 mph) and the slider that gets me," he said. "My fastball kind of tails down and it's tough to hit when they square up on it and the slider goes away from the hitter."

Hinz credits catcher MJ Houdek with calling a good game.

"MJ knows guys up and down the other team and he'll give me the scouting report," he said. "Sometimes there are 3-4 hitters who we'll try and work around them, work the corners. Towards the bottom of the order we'll go right at them."

Hinz was one of six captains this season, something he is proud of.

"It's extremely important," he said. "Going into the year, I thought 6 captains were a lot, but we have all different roles."

Bigler described Hinz's leadership style.

"He's a quiet lead by example guy," he said. "He's just got that bulldog mentality. The other kids feed off of it. Some kids don't wear their emotions on their face - and he does.

"One of the first things I liked about what he did when I was taking him out of a game - and he had another hitter or two to pitch to to get out of the inning - he did not want to come out of the game. He got upset. He wasn't disrespectful. He handed me the baseball but he did not want to come out of that game. He wanted to finish.

"He's such a competitor. I feed off that. The rest of our team feed off that. It's just fun to watch when you get out there. That's what it's all about.

"It's about competing. When he gets out there, he just competes. It makes for an atmosphere that gets us all in that frame of mind."


QUESTIONS FOR MICHAEL HINZ

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Cheeseburgers
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  'Future' Rap
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Fast & Furious series,' Action.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Big Bang Theory
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Physical Education
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED: Lake Como, Italy
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch TV, Sportscenter, Brewers
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:  Brookfield East
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beating Waukesha West, 2-1, in this year's regional title game
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and play baseball. UWM has given him a preferred walk-on offer for the fall.

















Red Raiders’ Jeff Mason made good first impression

RED RAIDERS' JEFF MASON MADE GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION




It didn't take Wauwatosa East baseball coach Pete Schwichtenberg long to know he had something special in Jeff Mason.

The Red Raiders varsity needed some pitching during Mason's first year with the program, so the call went out to the freshman team.

"We talked to the freshman coach and he said Jeff was throwing strikes," Schwichtenberg recalled. "He had his first start - we were going to try and take it slow with him and get it going - and he had a complete game against (West Allis) Hale.

"After his first start the coaches said 'This kid's not going anywhere. He's going to stay up with us because we'd been struggling to shut a team down and he was able to do that right away,'" Schwichtenberg said.

"He didn't throw that hard, but he hit his spots. He never got rattled, which is huge. He has always been a kid who would just throw strikes. He was a really quiet kid. He didn't really know a whole ton of guys on the team.

"But when he went to the mound, he was a completely different kid. He looked like he was in control. Nothing really bothered him being on varsity. It was really cool to see that. He was ready to compete right away."

Having a successful freshman year helped Mason the following season.

"I think it helped me a lot because I didn't expect to have that success," he said. "I went into my freshman year not knowing what to expect exactly. If I wasn't the best on the team, I would have been fine not making the freshman team if I really wasn't that good.

"But knowing I was good enough to be playing it helped me a lot to really get a lot of work in in the off-season and I trained to make this a real dream come true."

Mason began his baseball career on a softball diamond as a kid, as his parents (Scott, Sarah DeYoung) got him in a league with some friends before one of his neighborhood friends told him about the Tosa Baseball League (TBL).

"And since I was doing pretty good in softball, I thought I might as well tryout in the Tosa Baseball League. Then I got put on the Sidewinders and I really liked my coach and from there I started doing more and more baseball."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Jeff Mason was part of Tosa East's 1-2 pitching punch with senior Aaron Plaistad

So why did Mason stick with baseball?

"It's not contact. I played football for a bit, but I found that I'm not a contact sport kind of guy," he said. "I was also pretty good at it (baseball). There was a rough patch of questioning myself further. It's one of the few sports that I really still do.

"Doing baseball was the best way to stay active. It's a really fun sport to get into. Once you know all the things about it, it's easy to stay with it."

Mason has plenty of weapons to call on in his pitching arsenal.

"I try to be a pretty accurate pitcher," he said. "I try to work with the fastball the most. I also have a slider that I use and that seems to come in handy a lot; and a curve ball. But I mainly stick with the slider. It has a little more power. I was also trying to work in the knuckleball (laughs)."

Jeff also felt the mental part of his game is important to his success.

"If we're in a game where I'm not doing well, I can still pitch (effectively)," he said. "I have a lot of confidence going out to the mound and just throwing strikes. It doesn't matter what situation I'm in, I have the same mindset. If I don't get a call, I wouldn't protest it quite as much. It's easy for me if I start off poorly to get back on track."

Schwichtenberg pointed out Mason's role for the Red Raiders this season.

"He is one of our two aces along with Aaron Plaisted," Schwichtenberg said. "He's a guy when we set up the conference games we made sure when we faced some of the better teams when he pitched and he kept us in every game. He had a 0.64 ERA in conference games. He's our guy who is our ace and that's his big role on the mound."

Schwichtenberg likes Mason's attitude on the mound.

"He attacks hitters," he said. "He doesn't get behind. Everything he throws moves. Guys don't square up the ball against him. He wants the baseball."

But Jeff is more than just a good pitcher to the Red Raiders. He also brings a big bat to the middle of the order.

"In the lineup, he has hit anywhere from third through fifth for us," Schwichtenberg said. "He's right in the heart of the lineup. He is starting to get hot again. Near the middle of the year he was starting to wear down a little bit, but he got hot again (at the end of the year).

" As a hitter he drives the baseball. He hits basically to the left side, he ropes everything. Just being able to keep the ball on a line, he finds gaps. He's been able to do a lot lately, where earlier in the year he was hitting balls right at people."

He was a really quiet kid. But when he went to the mound, he was a completely different kid. He looked like he was in control. Nothing really bothered him being on varsity. It was really cool to see that. He was ready to compete right away.”

--- Coach Pete Schwichtenberg

Mason talked about his hitting style.

"I can drive the ball pretty far," the 6-foot, 1 inch 165-punder said. "I'm usually pretty aggressive at the plate. even if it's pretty early in the count I will still go for it. Sometimes it comes back to bite me a little bit (laughs). Most of the time that's (being aggressive) a strength."

When he's batting, Mason doesn't try to think like a pitcher. He's gotten in trouble that way.

"It's difficult. I tried to do that a little bit, but I found that didn't work," he said. "I'm not very good at guessing what pitch is going to come. So I just try to put myself in the position as a hitter and not try to put myself in a position of what the pitcher's thinking."

Early in the season, the Red Raiders used Jeff in the field.

"He plays some third and second for us," Schwichtenberg said. "Lately we've been keeping him as DH so we can keep his arm as fresh as we can, especially in the playoffs if we would need him in a game later. He played second a lot more last year, but he's been at third more this year."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Jeff Mason hit in the middle of the Red Raiders' batting order, leading the team in RBIs and doubles.

With another year to go next week, both Schwichtenberg and Mason know he has things to work on.

"I want to get more first-pitch strikes and give up less walks," Jeff said. "Basically become more accurate. Since I have the speed on a fastball I just need to get it in the strike zone more and be more aggressive that way.

"As a hitter I would definitely like to work on off-speed pitches, being able to hit curve balls. I'm mainly a pull hitter, but I've done a lot of work that if I need to go opposite field if I can. But for the most part I'm still a pull hitter."

Schwichtenberg sees a change in position for Mason next year.

"Defensively, we may have him at first, working on some things footwork wise," he said. "His plate work needs some consistency. When he squares up, he hits the ball harder than anyone we've got. Hopefully that consistency will carry throughout the whole year.

"On the mound, he needs to just keep doing what he's doing. Just pound the strike zone. They don't square the ball up against him a lot."

Schwichtenberg pointed out that Mason will be a captain next year, but he has already been doing some leadership duties this past year.

"During the off-season he was leading a ton of things like letting people know what we were doing," Schwichtenberg said. "He definitely leads by example, but he's becoming more vocal as well. He's going to be one of our captains next year. He's already shown that now - especially when we were going through some of the tougher times. He's the guy that would speak up and say let's get things back together."

Mason looks forward to the responsibility next year.

"It's a pretty big deal like I think back to when I was a freshman and people needed some guidance," he recalled. "So if I can help freshman and the younger players get into baseball more and also develop their confidence when they're out on the field I think I would succeed as captain.

"I try to say what needs to be said. If we're in a bad situation and the team is down on each other, it is important to let them know they are down on each other and we have to snap out of that."

Although the Red Raiders had a disappointing season (7-23), winning two Greater Metro Conference games, they won three of their final four games, won the regional title and lost to Marquette, 5-2, in the sectional semi-final.

Mason was 2-2 with a 1.35 ERA overall in 41.1 innings, but he was outstanding in GMC play with a 0.64 ERA, which earned him honorable mention honors. He was second-team as a sophomore.  At the plate, he hit .256 with a team-leading 7 doubles and 15 RBIs.


QUESTIONS FOR JEFF MASON

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Chinese
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  One Republic, Rock/Pop
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Good Will Hunting,' Action & Drama.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  English
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Egg Harbor, Door County
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Enjoys creative writing
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Marquette, Oak Creek
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Beating Brookfield East, 3-1, for the only GMC win in his sophomore year.
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend college, major in Creative Writing and play baseball.

















FOR TOSA WEST’S TYLER SCHACKMUTH THE TEAM IS ALWAYS FIRST

FOR WEST'S TYLER SCHACKMUTH
THE TEAM ALWAYS COMES FIRST




First-year head Coach Dave Belknapp needed a backup catcher at Wauwatosa West this season, but had no one to turn to - until senior Tyler Schackmuth stepped forth in the off-season.

Belknapp can't stress enough how much Schackmuth's move behind the plate has helped the Trojans.

"I can't emphasize enough his transition to catcher - the very first conversation was at an open gym," he recalled. "We were going over the team and where we saw guys catching. Besides Logan (Scharf), we have a couple of young guys but I didn't see as freshman doing the job and instantly he said 'I'd be happy to go back there.' And from that day on - and that's another tribute to him - even at this point in the season - he's still looking to improve.

"He's a very athletic kid," Belknapp said. "He's played volleyball and he was versatile. He played a lot of positions in Jr. Trojans. This season for us he was a lifesaver, going behind the plate. It was very unselfish of him. I don't think he had caught since 7th or 8th grade. And he's done a fantastic job and helped out at a position where we had very little depth."

When starting catcher Logan Scharf goes out to the mound, Schackmuth moves from his regular left field spot to behind the plate.

Tyler credits Trojans former multi-sport star Zack Veit with helping him make the transition.

"Coach Veit caught when he was a senior, and taught me the ropes pretty well. Catching is fun. You can control the game, control the pace of the game, which pitch is called. Plus I can throw people out."

Schackmuth recently talked about his progress behind the plate.

"Giving my all is my strong point," he said. "I'm not exactly technically sound, not having been playing (catcher) long. Selecting a pitch for the appropriate count; I think I've come along way. As the season has gone on I'm more comfortable with it. I call games, but the pitcher has the right to shake it off."

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tyler Schackmuth was named second team Woodland West catcher this week despite not having played the position since 7th grade.

Looking back, Schackmuth started off his baseball career with tee-ball, then advanced to the Tosa Baseball League and the Northwest Little League, before joining a travel team with the Jr. Trojans.

"My dad (Adam) was a pretty good player in high school. He pushed me, took me to batting cage," Tyler recalled, explaining why he stayed with baseball. "I enjoyed the nuances that the average person wouldn't see - the first and third situation. Guy on third less than one out, hitting him over, hitting him in. The little things."

Belknapp remembers as far back as seeing Tyler in 6th grade, along with 3-4 of his current teammates.

"They're still playing here, a good group," Belknapp said. "But Tyler is the ultimate team player. He'll play where you want him to play. He'll bat wherever you want to use him. He's been leading off.

"We put him in the lead-off spot. He's very consistent in putting balls in play, very consistent in hitting line drives. He is a very good lead-off hitter because he understands his role - he puts the ball in play and gets things going. He's got good speed and he's done a great job with that."

Belknapp couldn't say enough positive things about how Schackmuth goes about his job at the plate.

"He takes what's there, he doesn't force it," he said. "He makes good solid contact. He can be aggressive. When he sees his pitch, he jumps on it.

"But the other attribute that makes him a good lead-off hitter is he won't chase out of the strike zone. He knows what he can do. He's not a power hitter, but a guy who is going to drive it to the gap; put a good swing on the ball, hit line drives, hard ground balls, hit pitches in the strike zone."

“He is the proto-typical leader by example. He goes out there and does his job. He’s very unselfish, positive all the time. He will pick other guys up. He is never concerned with himself.”

--- Coach Dave Belknapp

Tyler knows his strengths as a hitter.

"I try and hit line drives up the middle, to the right side of the field actually," he said. It's what I excel at. Situational hitting too. It's a chance to score runs for your team."

Schackmuth was on the JV as a freshman, then as a sophomore he played half a year on varsity, getting in some games as a pitcher. Because of some injuries he played left field in a playoff game, but he also contributed as a pinch-runner.

Photo by Tom "Sky" Skibosh --- Tyler batted .333, with a .405 OBP and finished second on the team in runs (14) from his lead-off spot. He also won a game in relief.

With all the emphasis on when Tyler stepped up behind the plate, his main position has been left field.

"I played left since all through my junior leagues. I'm pretty comfortable out there," he said. "I focus on keeping my head in the game, knowing the situation. I pride myself on being a student of the game, knowing where the runners are, if the ball is hit to me what am I doing with it.

"I would say that's really my strength. I don't have the strongest arm and I'm not the fastest, but I know what you have to do with the ball when you get it. Take advantage of it. It's fun. Especially throwing people out."

Belknapp talked positively about Tyler's outfield play.

"He gets a jump on the ball, he's a good athlete with very good speed," he said. "He can run balls down. He has a nice arm, about average. He's very accurate. In left field you are not called on to make some of those moves like in centerfield. He just puts it on target."

Belknapp was asked what stood out the most about Tyler and he didn't hesitate.

"His smarts - his baseball instincts are something that grows with you every year you play," he said. "So he has the experience there. It's a whole other thing that he will have the presence of mind to apply it in different game situations.

"What he thinks about what he goes through in the outfield; when he thinks about his responsibilities as a catcher. He is very cerebral. He knows the game and he understands what situations call for. Catcher has to be the hardest position to play. Here in his senior season he's done a great job with it."

Belknapp pointed about Schackmuth's leadership skills.

"He is the proto-typical leader by example," he said. "He goes out there and does his job. He's very unselfish, positive all the time. He will pick other guys up. He is never concerned with himself.

"He's the guy - watch him play, watch how he prepares. You will do well if you do what Tyler does from game to game. He is just very well prepared."

Not surprisingly, Tyler is quick to credit someone else when asked about the team's leadership - Coach Veit.

"Our coach Veit was a great leader here and really inspirational in what a team should look like," he said. "He had senior leadership and everyone is on the same page and stuff. We have about 50 per cent seniors on the team and we're good as being one as a team.

"Leadership is part of being a good teammate more than being a captain. Someone has a bad at bat or made an error in the field, I tell them 'You got the next one.'

"On our baseball team it's a lot of fun coming out here every single day, playing your hearts out and winning close games. It's a lot of fun."

And Schackmuth is one of the main reasons for it.


QUESTIONS FOR TYLER SCHACKMUTH

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Cheese Cake Factory's Crispy Chicken Costoletta
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Rap & Country Music.
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Sand Lot.' Comedies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  The Office.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  Family Cottage in Townsend County.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Watch Netflix.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Wauwatosa East.
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  First game this season the Trojans defeated Cudahy, 2-1, with a walk-off hit.     
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Attend at the University of Wisconsin - Madison and study Actuarial Science.

















BROOKFIELD EAST’S DANNY BUTLER – A THINKING MAN’S PITCHER

BROOKFIELD EAST'S DANNY BUTLER A THINKING MAN'S PITCHER



Brookfield East junior Danny Butler likes the cerebral part of the game of baseball. That's why he stuck with it in his younger years.

"Some people say it's a slow game," the Spartans pitcher-shortstop said the other day. "I look at it as more strategic. How you play it. It always keeps me engaged."

Butler then explained his thought process as a pitcher and a shortstop.

"What I like best - I like making the batters look funny, I guess," he said smiling. "You always like changing your speeds and your direction of the ball. If they're not ready for the ball, they will be way out front and I've seen some pretty funny swings."

He likes having his head in the game as a shortstop also.

"I like shortstop - the amount of (responsibility). You have to know what's happening every play," he said. "You have to know wherever the ball's hit, where to go, who to throw to. Knowing the situation, being unselfish all along. Not many things come as a surprise. I'm not afraid to get dirty. diving is fun and enjoyable."

First-year coach at East, Steve Bartlein, talked about Butler's approach when pitching.

"Being competitive beyond any pitch he throws - when he is on the mound he can throw any one of his pitches to get guys out," he said. "He doesn't try too much. He doesn't try to take over the game himself. He lets his teammates work by letting the batters put the ball in play. He's very confidence in his pitches. He is very competitive and can throw them on any count."

Butler talked about his pitching.

"My pitching strength is my location and the number of pitches I can throw," he said. "In a game I have a fastball, curveball, sinker, change, knuckle and a two-seam. On the side, I'm working on the same thing as a curve ball, but I throw it from a 3/4 quarter arm angle outside so it kind of comes sideways so it's kind of looks like a slider."

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Danny Butler is the Spartans' lead-off batter, batting .311.

Bartlein is also pleased with Butler's defense.

"At shortstop and at second - wrap them together - there are three and four plays that stand out with runners and second and third (so far this year)," he said. " A guy hit a line drive up the middle and he (Butler) makes a diving catch.

"Another batter hits a ground ball up the middle, he backhands it and throws the runner out. In big situations too. Being confident, being able to focus pitch by pitch in the field helps us as a team and I think it's his biggest attribute defensively."

Butler, who earned honorable mention All-Greater Metro Conference as a pitcher as a sophomore, talked about how his success helped his confidence this year.

"I didn't realize how much playing time I would do. I was kind of new," he said. "But it was different than I expected," he said. "Seeing what I could do last year and knowing I could improve, it really helped out my mind set this year. I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to do better. I wanted to have a pretty good year."

Bartlein added his thoughts on Danny's early success.

"To be in a conference as competitive as it is and to be an underclassman and receive such an honor, has to boost his confidence and I think that's what it did for him; coming back and feeling he can do it in this conference. "

Butler talked about his thought process with a bat in his hand this season.

"I like to go after the first pitch. I'm aggressive" he said. "Most high school pitchers start you out with a fastball somewhere in the strike zone. I like to jump at the first pitch.

With two strikes I'm going to choke up a little bit, shorten up, take a step back in the box. Anything that's remotely close, I will just try and get a bat on it."

He also talked about his approach at the plate.

"I'm a solid hitter," he said. "I like to attack the first pitch. I go up there looking to hit. I'm not up there looking to walk. If I see a first pitch that I like, I like to hop on it."

“I knew what the teachers would say about him. One of the teachers would rave about him in class. Athletically, his volleyball coach, Tim Owen, spoke highly of him as an athlete and as a competitor. So before I saw him compete, people told me he was a competitor.”

--- Coach Steve Barlein

Butler also enjoys batting with runners on base.

"Yeah, it's a good feeling," he said. "I try to hit it in the gap with guys on base. If we're hitting, I'm feeling pretty good because the pitcher's not very happy giving up hit after hit. It takes a little pressure off me but still I'm just looking for the pitch to drive."

Bartlein is pleased with Danny's hitting approach.

"Being our lead-off hitter, he not only starts the game but they're the ones coming up in the sixth and seventh inning in some key situations," he said. "He'll have a big at bat, whether he has to fight off pitches, or come through with a hit or sac fly. He give us competitive at bats; not an easy out."

Bartlein knows that Butler still can get better down the road.

"Baseball is one of these sports where you look to how do you want to advance yourself," Bartlein said. "Fundamentally, there is always fine tuning. An area he can work on is fine tuning mechanics - at the plate, in the field and on the mound. He can improve extra velocity, extra bat speed.

"As he's growing, strength is another thing he can work on. That's one of the areas he can improve on in the off-season as he's developing as an athlete. How is he is going about his business outside of his sport. Maintaining good friendships and working hard continuing to lead in other sports he can develop these competitive edges."

Bartlein initially saw Butler from the opposing sideline, as he was an assistant coach with the cross-town rival Brookfield Central Lancers.

Photo by Alan Herzberg, SportsPhotos LLC --- Danny Butler has 6 pitches he uses to compile a 0.63 ERA, 3 wins & a save.

"First time I legitimately watched him play was in an open gym this past year in February," Bartlein said. "We started to do some open gyms and the parents ran them. I came and watched him throw off the mound a little bit. That was the first time I legitimately saw him play."

But Bartlein was well aware of Butler because Steve taught at East.

"I would see him in the hallways and how he interacted with his friends," he said. "I knew what the teachers would say about him. One of the teachers would rave about him in class. Athletically, his volleyball coach, Tim Owen, spoke highly of him as an athlete and as a competitor. So before I saw him compete, people told me he was a competitor."

Butler impressed Bartlein early in the year with his attitude in a rain-soaked game.

"Our first game we played against Shorewood, it was down-pouring the whole game. But he's not one for excuses," he said. "He couldn't grip the ball. He didn't use any excuses. He just went out there and competed in that game and kept us in it. That when I knew he was a special ballplayer, a special competitor."

Leadership is another important area a team's top athlete's must be efficient at.

"Danny is our junior captain," he said. "I think that his peers look at him has a kind of quiet leader. He definitely does step up and say things when necessary. He will chose when to step up and motivate his team. When he does, it's insightful and the guys are receptive to him."

Seniors Cole Vento and Sam Gauger are the other two captains Butler pointed out as he was asked about his approach as a captain.

"It's a responsibility. I lead by example," he said. "Some days if you're not having the best game, you can't drop your head and pout about it. The younger guys are looking up to you. You work through it, whatever it is. Try and get better.

"One of sophomores was pitching the other day and I could tell he was getting a little excited. He was rushing his motion. So I went up and talked to him and said 'Hey, slow it down. Stay calm. Do your normal stuff.' He goes back and ends the inning."

Bartlein talked about Butler's leadership skills.

"Where Danny is a quiet personality, he thrives in 1-on-1 situations. The guys are very responsive to any critique. It's not Danny's niche to be the rah-rah vocal guy. He's got a lot of insightful things to pass on and say. That's an area I would like to help him grow in."


QUESTIONS FOR DANNY BUTLER

  • FAVORITE FOOD:  Mom's ribs and cheesy hash browns
  • FAVORITE MUSIC:  Anything but Country Music
  • FAVORITE MOVIE:  'Red Tails.'  World War II movies.
  • FAVORITE TV SHOW:  Simpsons.
  • FAVORITE CLASS:  Math
  • FAVORITE PLACE YOU VISITED:  San Francisco.
  • WHAT DO YOU DO TO RELAX?  Check my phone, play videos, watch movies.
  • FAVORITE SPORTS RIVALRY:   Brookfield Central.
  • MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Freshman year, first pitch he threw was a homer. Then had a 1-2-3 inning.      
  • WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO IN THE FUTURE: Would like to go into aviation to be a commercial or private airlines pilot.