Brenden Illies Commits to North Carolina

1. You are the only player that Coach Wiese has allowed to call a majority of the pitches in
Weise’s 20 year tenor, how god does that make you feel?

Until I saw Coach Wiese’s quote in the paper, I was not aware of that, but I am honored. I am very fortunate to have worked with many coaches, including Coach Wiese, over the past 6 or 7 years who have helped me learn the finer points of the game, including reading hitters and calling pitches.

2. You’ve played in every game since you were in freshman how much have you changed on the field and as a leader?

I’ve changed a lot since my freshmen year. When I was a freshman, I was the “rook”, the youngest player on the team. I considered myself to be just one of the guys. I was able to just play the game. Into my sophomore year, I was considered a veteran and knew that I had to take on a bigger leadership role. Since my sophomore year, I have become more of a vocal leader, providing encouragement and pushing other players to give it their all. This year, I’m helping the younger players learn the game so they can carry on the Viking tradition.

3. Who has been your biggest mentor in your baseball career?

From the time I was able to walk I’ve had a bat and ball in my hands all because of my father. He has been instrumental in teaching me how to play the game of baseball as well as granting me the utmost support for what I do as a player. My father deserves all the credit for making me fall in love with the greatest sport.

4. You are one of the few guys left from last year’s team that earned that trip to North Carolina, how satisfying was that play in that North Carolina Tournament?

When I first learned of the opportunity, I was excited for not only for the team, but also for Coach Wiese. Over the past 20 years, he has built a very successful baseball program. To represent the Vikings and compete against some of the other top high school baseball programs in the country was an honor and a well-deserved recognition for the Vikings baseball program.

5. You are already committed to play at the University of North Carolina to play baseball, when did they first start recruiting you?

The North Carolina coaches first saw me play at the USA Baseball National Team Development Program in 2013. However, I first visited the North Carolina campus the summer after 8th grade and fell in love with it. During my sophomore year, I reached out to the coaches to let them know who I was and that I was interested in becoming a Tar Heel. I visited the campus again the summer after my sophomore year to meet with the coaches to let. After that meeting, I knew it was the right fit for me, both academically and athletically.

6. How hard was it to give up football?

It was hard at first, but I realized that my future was in baseball.

7. Being in the spotlight for this long how have you kept a level head and not get to big of a head?

Baseball is a game that will keep you humble. After all, a successful hitter is one who fails in 7 out of every 10 at bats. With my successes, I’ve encountered plenty of failure but true success is based on how well you bounce back from failure. The most valuable thing I’ve learned from my previous coaches is to not ride the wave of emotion, but to keep them even keel.

8. Coach Weise has called you the “true leader of this team” how do take it upon yourself to get this team back to a state title?

Repeating a championship is not easily done. It will take the entire team to get it done. Individually, I can do my part by encouraging and/or pushing others to be their best, playing the game the right way, and doing whatever it takes to help the team be successful.

9. If you don’t win the state title this year will it be a disappointment?

Of course it will be disappointing. The goal of every Puyallup Viking baseball team is to win a State Championship. After having been part of it last year, I know what it feels like and want to go back and do it again.

10. Was it hard for you or were you happy to see Luke Heimlich graduate early and go to Oregon State?

That’s the thing about team sports. Pieces are always being replaced. I’m happy for all the former Vikings who have moved on to play college or professional baseball, including Luke.

11. Have you gotten to go down and see a game that he has pitched so far this season?

With the Vikings’ schedule and my other commitments, I have not.

12. There have been many High School baseball players that have gone straight to the MLB. How high would you have to go in the draft to go straight to the MLB, if you would at all?

My ultimate goal is to play in the Show, but it’s not about when my name is called. My decision to play major league baseball will depend on where I’m at with my game. When the time comes, whether it is this June or June of 2018, I will sit down with my parents and make the best decision for me.