Home Greenport Union Free School District Greenport High School Greenport athlete garners Suffolk County home run title; twins headed to Wagner

Greenport athlete garners Suffolk County home run title; twins headed to Wagner

All photos courtesy of Drinkwater family.

It’s been an exciting few months for Greenport High School’s Drinkwater twins.

This week, John Drinkwater learned that he’s won the title for hitting the most home runs in Suffolk County this season, with six home runs recorded.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Drinkwater’s varsity baseball coach Mike Sage. “There are nine divisions in Suffolk, which makes for a lot of teams and a lot of excellent players. Home runs are usually hard to come by in high school baseball so six in 20 games is quite an accomplishment.”

Sage added that while he’s not sure if a player from Greenport has ever held the honor in the past, if so, it’s “certainly not recently.” Several players scored four home runs, he said.

2015_0514_Drinkwater2Both boys, Sage said, bring a lot of energy to the team. “I could see both of them being coaches one day because they really enjoy working with the younger players. I would wish them both luck and continued success if they choose to play ball in college but would advise both boys to ensure they establish an appropriate balance between playing baseball and keeping up on their studies because I’m sure the daily grind of both will take considerable commitment. I think they are up for challenge, though.”

Of the honor, John said, “It feels great. I know a lot of the guys that were in the running for it with me and they’re all great athletes, so that makes it feel even sweeter.”

Meanwhile both John and Matthew have been accepted into Wagner College’s prestigious musical theater program.

2015_0514_Drinkwater3Both boys reflected on their years in Greenport, where they’ve made their mark not only in baseball but on the varsity football team, in scores of theatrical productions — both are nominated for Teeny awards this year again — and in community service. The decision to attend Wagner was one they’re both thrilled with, they said.

Wagner’s “proximity to the city was a big draw for me,” John said.

“The quality and prestige of the Wagner Theater Performance program, and the generous scholarships from the college, made it an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Matthew said.

Felicia Ruff, Theatre and Speech Department Chair at Wagner College said the program is “highly selective” with approximately 12 boys chosen out of 400 total applicants per year. Their acceptance comes after making a splash on the Greenport stage; for highlights of their theatrical, musical and film performances, they’ve compiled a YouTube channel. Both are studying at the famed Upright Citizens Brigade school in New York, as well.
Both young men plan to continue playing baseball at college. “They’ve been very clear at this point that if it’s something that I can handle, it’s something that they can accommodate. Of course, Division 1 is not something you can just go and do but it’s an exciting prospect to even get the chance,” John said.

Matthew agreed: “The school is very supportive for branching out and using all of one’s abilities, not just forcing a student to be in either the theater department or participate in the athletic program.”

Looking back on high school, John said what stands out most in his memories are the friendships he’s made, on the field and on the stage. “Those moments that you have with them are the ones you really remember.”

Matthew said some of his stand-out moments have been on the bus, “going to an away game, just telling stories, listening to stories from older guys, telling jokes and just having a good time with my friends. Another great moment in my high school career was winning a Teeny award for my role as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Greenport’s production of ‘Guys and Dolls’.”

Graduation is a pivotal point in both young men’s lives. “It is hard right now to wrap my mind around this all being over, but I’ve always been able to adapt to wherever I am, and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to take all my talents to the next level,” John said.

For Matthew, graduation day will hold mixed emotions. “It’s bittersweet because I’ve accomplished so much in my high school career and have created so many memories that I’ll cherish for the rest of my life, but I know that moving on to college gives me the opportunity to achieve even more and take my talents and passions to the next level. My goals are to make a career for myself doing something I love such as performing, writing comedy, playing music or making films.”

Both young men say their family has shaped their lives. “My grandfather always encouraged me to play sports and do theater,” Matthew said. “He always told me never to stop doing one for the other because he enjoyed both of them so much.”

Other role models, he said, include his favorite baseball player, David Wright from the New York Mets. “He is a great player and always conducts himself with class and respect, which is what I’ve tried to model myself after.” His favorite performer, Matthew said, is Colm Wilkinson, best know as originating the role of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables”. “He is one of the greatest actors/singers of all time and I’ve always strived to be like him.”

John said his family has encouraged him to pursue dual goals of theater and athletics. “My grandfather was the first one to really stress to me that I could be great in both, so I always think about what he would tell me before I take on a show or a game. He is really my greatest inspiration.”

He added, “I’d like to thank everyone for giving me the opportunities that I’ve been given. Without my family to support me and my friends to take this crazy ride with me, I probably couldn’t have done it. So, I say thank you to all of them and I can’t wait to see where this all goes.”

Matthew also thanked his family and friends who’ve supported and believed in him. “Keep believing, because this is only the beginning,” he said.

There’s no doubt that the boys’ parents Kerry and Angela Drinkwater will be beaming on graduation day.

Kerry said he’s “immensely proud” of John’s home run record “as well as all the base hits he and Matthew had against some of the best pitchers they faced this season. However, it pales in comparison to the pride I feel when baseball umpires, opposing coaches and even parents from the other teams come over and tell me how much they will miss watching our kids play. So many people marvel at their enthusiasm, humor and general ability to have a great time playing the game, as well as how they pass that feeling on to everyone else on the field. They also have a unique ability to take the younger kids under their wings and help coach them and make them feel completely comfortable and accepted, which is the total opposite of hazing.”

He added, My wife and I have often liked to say that they’ve done a great job balancing sports and theater . But, as I think about it now, that’s not really the case at all. The word ‘balance’ suggests that they’ve given a little here and taken a little there, to make things work out. In reality, however, they’ve just worked harder to do all the things that help them succeed to top levels at everything they try.”

Angela said she’s proud of all her boys have achieved, and how they’ve bridged the worlds of acting  and sports. “I can’t say I’m surprised, though. They have been leaders and creators and competitors from infancy. They help each other ‘step it up’ in all they do. They are great friends and collaborators and share their friendship and enthusiasm with anyone around them.”

She echoed her boys’ belief that their grandfather John Drinkwater was an ardent supporter. “He is no longer with us, physically, but boy, does his spirit, encouragement and mentoring live on in my two sons, and all of his eight grandchildren, for that matter. All that they both are and will ever be is a testament to my father-in-law and the idea that if you encourage and believe in and support children, it kind of pays off in the end, even if you’re not around to physically see it. They pay it forward with younger children, as well, and are great mentors. They represent all a mother could hope for in children.”