Glenelg's Brinker provides big plays, adds versatility

April 04, 1993|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

When Glenelg High's Jamie Brinker drove in the tying run with a single against Centennial on Wednesday, it wasn't the first time the senior had made a big play to help his team.

Last season the three-sport athlete made a game-saving catch in the outfield against Mount Hebron. He also batted .356 and made second-team All-County.

He started that season auspiciously, with two doubles against Calvert Hall, one of the Baltimore area's top teams.

"I had just hoped he could walk a few times, make some contact and steal some bases," Glenelg coach Terry Coleman said. "When he hit those doubles, I said, 'My gosh, this is going to be great.' "

Without Brinker's bat, it is unlikely Glenelg would have gone 12-6 and shared the county championship last season, because the Gladiators batted only .255 as a team and scored only 83 runs.

Brinker has switched from the outfield to second base this season -- his third position in as many years.

He was brought up to the varsity as a sophomore because his athletic ability allowed him to be a much-needed backup catcher -- a position at which he had no experience.

"Catching wasn't his favorite position, but he got into some games and helped us out," Coleman said.

This season, Brinker asked Coleman if he could play second base, and with a shortage of infielders, Coleman was happy he did.

"I like the infield best because you are involved in a lot of action," Brinker said.

This season's Glenelg team has a shot at winning another county title and doing well in the playoffs, and a successful baseball season would cap an outstanding senior sports year for Brinker that he only could have dreamed of last summer.

It started when the soccer team won a state Class 2A co-championship, going 12-2-1, the first winning season in school history.

"Last summer I never would have thought we'd win a state soccer title," he said. "It was awesome. We had great chemistry. We're still close friends. We looked forward to practice every day because Coach [John] Bouman made it so much fun. We owe him our success."

Brinker played a crucial defensive role, guarding a who's-who list of county soccer players, including Ted Lawler (Oakland Mills), Kris Jefferson (Hammond), Rehan Gill (Centennial), B. J. Jefferson (Wilde Lake) and Derek Phillips ( Atholton).

Brinker's major asset is his quickness, and he was especially effective in both games against seven-time state champion Oakland Mills, including a 2-1 state semifinal win over the Scorpions.

The transition to basketball was swift but successful. The Gladiators won seven of eight non-league games before going 8-6 in the league. They lost to Oakland Mills in overtime and Hammond in the last seconds and were upset twice in close games by Howard.

Then the Gladiators lost by three points in the closing seconds to Allegany in the regional semifinal. Allegany went on to win the state title. Glenelg's final 16-8 record was one of its best ever, however.

"I think we could have done a lot better in the county, but sometimes the team just lacked concentration," Brinker said.

He played point guard, and his quickness and passing ability helped Glenelg's up-tempo style. He saw the open court well and made some amazing passes.

"I'd try to figure out where some of his passes were going and the next thing I knew the ball was hitting one of our players in the chest," said Coleman, who also coached the basketball team. "He could put his passes on the money and his defensive quickness put the brakes on opposing point guards."

Brinker averaged six points and five assists, and his enthusiasm and desire were exemplary.

"My only criticism of him is that he was too selfless," Coleman said. "I would have liked him to shoot more."

In a big game against Oakland Mills down the stretch, Brinker decided he would shoot more and scored 13 points, his season high.

Coleman said: "He certainly isn't big-headed. But the teams he plays on win a lot of games, and that says something about how much he contributes."

Brinker carries a 3.2 grade-point average and will attend Virginia Tech next fall -- but not on an athletic scholarship.

"I might try to walk on in soccer, but it's Division I, so I don't have any great expectations," Brinker said.

In an age when some athletes choose to specialize in one sport to try to win a college scholarship, he's pleased he's been able to participate in three different sports.

"Playing three sports teaches you discipline and time management," he said.

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