QZ93 Sports

Berlin sophomore ready to break through

In Baseball, Basketball, Berlin, District 5, Football, PIAA, Track and Field, WestPAC on May 22, 2009 at 1:39 am

At 6-foot-6, Berlin sophomore Alex Will stands out. But this isn’t about standing out because he’s tall, it’s about standing out because, in this day and age, Alex Will is something special.

As if it wasn’t enough to be a star football and basketball player, Will is also a star baseball player and will compete this weekend in the high jump at the PIAA championships.

As if being a four-sport star isn’t hard enough, Will’s got another thing going for him.

You see, he’s also a sensational student, carrying a GPA near 4.6 and ranking him among the top 2 in his class.

Alex Will is indeed something special.

This weekend, he’ll put away the books for a few hours and focus instead on making a splash in his first season as a varsity high jumper. He cleared 6-feet at the District 5 Class AA championships but has gone as high as 6-2 this season. That’s four inches behind the event’s top seed.

“There are a lot of talented athletes in the state that can jump higher than I can,” said Will, the son of Larry and Patty Will of New Baltimore. “Mr. (Mike) Shealer’s been working with me and I know that, going in, I have to do better than I ever have before. I’m feeling that it’s attainable. I have a chance of getting to the next height. Mentally, I go in with the mindset that I’m a sophomore and the underdog jumping against the seasoned seniors and older guys.”

But to even be at this level is a testament to the hard work of Will and the dedication of Shealer, the school’s athletic director and Will’s jumping coach.

“Mr. Shealer is an amazing high jump coach,” Will said. “He really took me under his wing and coached me really well. He took his personal time to help me learn to high jump and helped me achieve the success that I had.”

The high jump fits in nicely for Will, who has been dunking a basketball since eighth grade, when he stood a mere 6-2. Not only does the high jump let him take advantage of his natural jumping ability, but it also makes competing in two sports at the same time a bit easier.

“I’ve been playing baseball since I was 8,” Will said, “it’s always been one of my favorite sports. When Mr. Shealer approached me about doing track and the high jump, I figured that I would give that a try since it was more of an individual sport. It’s something that you can do on your own and I wanted to give it a try, hoping I could do well in the high jump.”

Alex Will sports the gold medal after capturing the District 5 high jump championship./SUBMITTED PHOTO

Alex Will sports the gold medal after capturing the District 5 high jump championship./SUBMITTED PHOTO

Helping Will out along the way was a few breaks from schedule makers. Even while competing in two sports, he only missed one event: A baseball practice.

“Thankfully, I really enjoy both of the sports and I didn’t want to lose either one,” he said. “I enjoy competing and having the chance to really do well in track, and even baseball, though we took our lumps this year. It just motivated me with the competition and the fun aspect to keep playing.”

Will was as starter this year at first base for the Mountaineers and was one of the team’s top batters from his spot at No. 4 in the lineup. He also pitched in three games, including starting two of them.

Once this weekend is over, Will can get a few days to step back, but it probably won’ t be for long. He and the rest of his Mountaineers teammates will be back to work in search of football glory.

“We’ll be better experienced,” Will said. “We want to prove ourselves. We have been working hard in the offseason and we want to come out and show that we can compete in, and win, big games.”

This past season showed many around the area how strong Berlin could compete when the Mountaineers took eventual District 5 Class A champion Windber to the wire before falling in a semifinal game at Ramblers Stadium. But even with the success in the playoffs, there’s another game that will stand out in Will’s mind, a game he played a critical part in.

Alex Will was an integral part of Berlin's success on the football field in 2008./SUBMITTED PHOTO

Alex Will was an integral part of Berlin's success on the football field in 2008./SUBMITTED PHOTO

“I’d say Meyersdale stands out at the top of the list for games that will remain in my memory forever,” Will said. “Leading up to it and during it, it was exciting all the way around. The catch I had, as fate would have it, really topped it off.”

And what a catch it was. With little time remaining in the fourth quarter, and Berlin down by three points, Will skied over the middle to haul in a pass from quarterback Brett Hankinson. His catch allowed the Mountaineers to pick up a first down en route to the eventual 14-10 victory.

“(The win) showed the younger kids that we had the potential and ability to win,” Will said. “We just had to play to our best and good things would happen when we played to our ability and didn’t make any mistakes.”

If not for Will’s hard work early in the season, though, his chance to be a hero may never have happened.

“I knew coming in that there were guys ahead of me and I knew I had to work hard to get some playing time,” he said. “I was pleased when my heard work in practice paid off on the field. I thought I proved myself a little bit and it got more enjoyable as the season went along and Coach (Doug) Paul showed he had faith in me.”

His success carried onto the basketball court as well. From his position at center, Will scored 339 points and even earned a spot on the QZ93 Sports All-Somerset County second team at the end of the year. Will was the only non-senior on either the first or second teams.

During the season, Will did his best to be a strong leader as well as a strong player.

“I wanted to be a co-leader. I didn’t want to take over for the seniors and juniors,” he said. “I wanted to just be there and help be a behind-the-scenes leader. I just wanted try and help turn guys in the right direction and get them motivated on the court.”

Will’s still got a few years left at Berlin, but he’s already looking to the future, both with the Mountaineers and beyond.

“I’m hoping that we can help turn around the Berlin sports programs in the years I’m in high school and hopefully we can have some more success,” he said.

As for post-Berlin activities, Will said he doesn’t have a college picked out yet, but he definitely wants to keep playing a sport at that level.

Academically, he said psychology is a possibility, but that architecture could be a route he explores as well.

Looks like he’s already got a good foundation.

-MATT JORDAN
matt@qz93sports.com

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