Brian Stere


from the Tavistock Gazette, Wednesday, June 20, 2007

When legendary Canadian fastball pitcher Darren Zack was asked who was
the toughest batter to face, he once replied, Brian Stere.

Brian, the 39-year-old Tavistock player who spent the entire 16 years of
his senior men's fastball career with the Kitchener Hallman Twins, was
honoured on Tuesday night in Tavistock when the club retired his #16
uniform. It is the first sweater retirement in the club's 41-year history,
and a real tribute to a classic player.

"Brian's coach, Larry (Hawk) Lynch, who helped build the Kitchener
Hallman Twins making them Canada's longest continuously operated senior
men's fastball team, made the presentation Tuesday evening. The plaque read:
"Brian Stere 'Chubbs' our captain, our leader, our friend. A country ball
player who parlayed a walk-on tryout into a 16-year legendary career with
the Waterloo CHYMers, Waterloo Twins and Kitchener Hallman Twins. Your
number will always be symbolic of your commitment to excellence and your
career accomplishments are so honoured as your sweater is retired today.
Presented June 12, 2007 with distinction."

Brian said he knew something was up when he was asked to attend
Tuesday's events, but "I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I knew I'd
be nervous, he added, "but I got all choked up when Larry started talking."
Larry gave Brian a chance to play back in 1990. Brian played his minor
ball in Tavistock and because there was no midget team, he joined the
Tavistock Orioles intermadies ball club after turning down junior teams in
New Hamburg and St. Marys.

"I liked playing (fastball) with my friends,"Brian recalls about his
early days. Then, when Brad Dietrich pitched for the Orioles, he asked Brian
to try out for the Twins with him the next season. Another Tavistock player,
Danny Yantzi, was with the team at that time and both Brad and Brian made
the team.

Brian started out as a catcher and designated hitter. "I always knew I
could hit," he said. But, he didn't have the experience of playing junior,
so he sat on the bench for the first few seasons. "All of a sudden I started
getting better," he recalls. Practicing in the local park with a pitching
machine on cold February mornings seemed to be paying off, especially with
the help of close friend and fellow player Dave Bailey.

As the club's designated hitter, Brian was teased as being the youngest
designated player (DP) in the league. "That was the meat of my career
though," he said.

Over the past sixteen years, the Hallman Twins have qualified 15 times
(they didn¹t attempt it in 1991) for the International Softball Congress
(ISC) World Championships with four top ten finishes. Brian has been an
integral part of their success being named the ISC All World Catcher in
1994, All-Canadian Designated Hitter in 1996 and 2005, All-Canadian Catcher
in 2004, Midland Redcoat Tournament MVP in 1993, ISC League All Star Game
MVP in 1998, and named to the 48-man pool for Team Canada in 1998.
Even though Brian felt he got better as a player under the leadership of
coach Lynch, "we got better as a team as well," he said. The Hallman Twins
have been three-time Ontario champions, four times in second place, with 10
Canadian championship appearances, earning bronze in 1993 and 2005, and
silver in 1998 and 2004.

"I'd seen it all except that one special victory," Brian said. Their
team lost to Newfoundland last year in the final.

There is a tremendous amount of time and sacrifice that is required to
play at the top level, and "it was great to be rewarded for that," Brian
commented. "It's also amazing to think that I am in the same company with
Keith (Monk) Wagler and Dan Yantzi," he added.

Brian was walking down the street in Kitchener one night and a total
stranger came up to him and asked if he was Brian Stere. He answered and the
man said he just wanted to tell him that he was his son's favourite player.
"I was speechless," Brian recalled. "It's amazing to think that I made that
sort of impressions on the kids who came to watch us play."

Today, the game has definitely changed, Brian admits. The teams are more
centralized with players coming from the east and west coasts and the U.S.
just to play on this elite club.

Last season, Brian gave up the game he loves "to focus on family and
work," he said. He and his fiancée Danielle (McKay) and her son, Carter,
live on the 13th Line of East Zorra-Tavistock and are expecting their first
child at any time now.

Brian owns and operates his own business, Agcore Contracting,
specializing in concrete forming and flat work. He is the youngest son of
Bob and Betty Stere of Tavistock.

Bill Gladding, editor/publisher
Tavistock Gazette Ltd.


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