Whether it’s playing shortstop for Joe Parenti or playing quarterback for John Hoerster, Oak Park and River Forest senior Brian May is an athlete and leader for all seasons.
So what has it been like for the co-captain on both teams playing for two successful coaches in Joe Parenti (baseball) and John Hoerster (football)?
“Playing under Parenti and Hoerster are two very different coaching styles mostly because football and baseball are such different games,” May said. “Both those guys are high class individuals. I have nothing bad to say about either of them. I can’t even put into words how lucky I am to have played under these two coaches. Not only are they great coaches, but they care about more than just the sport. I have great relationships with both of them off the field.”
While he has developed a passion for football, May’s favorite sport from a very early age was baseball.
“Baseball was my (first) love ever since I picked one up as a toddler,” he said. “Playing on (OPRF) varsity baseball for three years has been something I will never forget. I have been playing with a lot of these guys since Little League so it means a lot to me. I’ve had the time of my life with my brothers on the diamond. It’s hard to think that soon enough, it will all be over.”
Before the last out is recorded, however, May is enjoying his senior campaign on an excellent OPRF baseball squad.
In terms of next year, May will attend and play college baseball at DePauw.
“Going to DePauw was a decision that seemed to fit me perfectly.” May said. “I love playing ball and didn’t want to hang up the cleats. I wanted to find a place where I can continue to do what I love, but still be able to have a college experience.”
May is undecided as to what he will study in college. However, he plans on staying involved with sports (perhaps as a sports agent) after getting his degree.
May, a River Forest resident, credits humility as the key to his success as an OPRF student-athlete.
“I’ve been successful as a student-athlete at OPRF because of my mindset,” he said. “Sure, hard work has been very helpful as well, but my calm head has kept me humble yet confident.
“In sports, a big thing is you can never let things get in your head. By that I mean if you’re playing well, you can’t get complacent. If you’re not playing well, you can’t get down on yourself.”
During the fall, May was the starting quarterback for the Huskies. He led OPRF to a sixth consecutive postseason berth and spearheaded some comeback victories for the Huskies.
“Playing quarterback requires so much mental toughness,” May said. “Many would think if you can throw a ball far and you can run fast you should be all set. That’s not the case. From all the way from making reads in a very fast-paced game to getting over an interception on my last drive, mental toughness is key.”
Initially, May hadn’t planned on playing high school football. However, Hoerster convinced him to get on the gridiron during his very first week as a student.
“My experience with football changed my high school experience partly because going into high school, I wasn’t even a football player,” May explained. “Having Coach Hoerster as an English teacher my freshman year changed that when he persuaded me to play a week into my freshman year. If I didn’t play football I wouldn’t have progressed as a person nearly as much.”
Being a multi-sport athlete can take up a lot of time. Despite that challenge, May strives to find balance in life. He is always looking to find out more about himself.
“Although sports take up a lot of my time, I love spending time with my family, friends, and my girlfriend,” May said. “Recently I have been exploring myself and trying to figure out what I love to do. At this age it is really difficult because interests change on a day to day basis.”
High hopes for Huskies
The OPRF baseball team, which has won 8 of their last 9 games, is 19-4 overall and 13-4 in the West Suburban Silver. The Huskies and Lyons Township are in a tight race for first place.
OPRF features a bevy of excellent pitchers. Senior Brendan Barrette is 5-1 with a .589 ERA and 43 strikeouts. He tossed a no-hitter against York this season. Griffin Holderfield (1-1, 2.12 ERA, 37 strikeouts, 4 saves) and Nathan Diamond (4-0, 1.61 ERA, 39 strikeouts) are standouts as well.
Offensively, the Huskies attack as a pack. Dylan Whitney (.365, 16 RBIs), Luke Fitzgerald (.302, 18 RBIs), Jake Adams (.338, 13 RBIs, 15 runs), Jai Mason Hsieh-Bailey (.340, 15 stolen bases, 27 runs), Andrew Neilson (.393) and Holderfield (.357, 2 home runs, 24 RBIs) are all extremely tough outs for opposing pitchers.
“Our pitching, both starters and the bullpen have been the anchor of this team,” Parenti said. “Our defense has been consistent and we have the ability to overcome errors. Baserunning has been strong and aggressive. Hitting seems to continue to improve throughout the year. Our hitters are making the appropriate adjustments to be successful. We are a well-balanced team with good leaders.”
For his part, May is hitting .388 with a home run, four doubles and nine stolen bases.
“Brian is able to do everything very well. He hits and fields well, runs the bases and he’s a leader,” Parenti said. “The best teams we have coached over the years have had good leadership. Brian, and a few other guys, have embraced that role and done well with it. He has helped keep the focus on the team and not on the individual.”
Barrette, a fellow senior and close friend of May, offered similar praise.
“For as long as I’ve known Brian he has been a quiet leader,” Barrette said. “This year he has changed in that sense. It sounds cliché, but he is the quarterback of our team on and off the field.
“When he’s at shortstop, he is communicating with other infielders and making sure everyone knows where the ball needs to go,” Barrette said. “It’s the same in the dugout as he’s always making sure everyone is paying attention and into the game. That role serves him really well. He continues to lead by example but has really stepped up being a vocal leader this year.”
In terms of the postseason, the Huskies are the top seed at the Loyola Sectional. OPRF hopes to atone for a shocking upset loss to Maine West in the regional semifinal last season. Beyond that, the annual goal is to win a state championship.
“At the beginning of the season we knew we had the talent, but had to become a unit and not just a bunch of individuals,” May said. “We have come a long way as a team, but still have things we can improve on. Personally, I think I have been playing the way I am expected to play.”
Diamond, who has committed to Pepperdine, believes the Huskies’ success is attributable to team chemistry and balance.
“Our team’s success this season is because we have really gotten in sync as a team,” he said. “Between our pitching, which is usually strong, our hitting and fielding has strengthened a ton. We are a complete team.
“Brian May contributes to this because he makes the plays when we need it at shortstop and puts the ball into play from the plate. He pairs well with second baseman Dylan Whitney to cover the middle infield. Our coaches have really worked hard with us on our hitting to ensure that we get the runs we need to win. When our defense is on, and our offense is in sync, we have played some really great baseball.”