Coaching colleague tips cap to Brewer
Part 2 of 2
Sam Smichnick of Belle Vernon remembers Bill Brewer, the longtime community volunteer and advocate of youth sports in their town, for many reasons.
“I can't recall anyone as dedicated to coaching youth sports as Bill was,” Smichnick said. “He went above and beyond the proverbial call of duty. He conducted practices and never missed a game but he also spent countless hours taking care of the field. We used to kid him that he knew if one tiny blade of grass was out of place, but he took a lot of pride in the field and the stadium. To him, it was a community showcase and one of the best stadiums in the area.”
“The field” was known as Speers Field and Bellmar Stadium before being rededicated and named in honor and memory of Brewer, who died at age 41 on July 13, 1973. It is now known as Manzini Field at Brewer Stadium.
Smichnick, a 1964 graduate of Bellmar High School, credits Brewer for getting him involved in coaching.
“I was home on leave from the Navy and was having a cup of coffee at Pat's Dairy Bar in North Belle Vernon when I met Bill for the first time,” Smichnick said. “I learned that he was a coach in the Midget Football League and told him that was something I would be interested in doing. He told me to get in touch with him when I got out of the service. Nine months later, in the fall of 1967, I became one of his assistants with the Vikings. What a great experience that was. He inspired me to stay in coaching and I later became a head coach.”
Now retired from a long career as a millright at the Duquesne Works of U.S. Steel Corp., Smichnick said naming Brewer Stadium in honor of his mentor and longtime friend was “very appropriate.”
“It was the least that could be done for him,” Smichnick, 67, said. “I never heard anyone say a bad word about Bill Brewer. I don't know how anyone couldn't like him. Bill was a jolly guy who loved what he was doing, who loved life — and was revered by everyone who knew him. He coached a number of undefeated teams but it really wasn't about wins and losses. He cared about the kids, worked long and hard to teach them about life as well as football. He was an asset to so many. He symbolized the true meaning of volunteerism.”
Like so many others, Smichnick also agrees with the extended designation of the site to Manzini Field at Brewer Stadium in July 2008. That action was taken to recognize Bap Manzini, the longtime coach and teacher at Bellmar High School who later enjoyed success as head football coach at Thomas Jefferson High School. He was a resident of Belle Vernon when he died on May 9, 2008.
“Bap certainly brought attention and acclaim to Bellmar and the Belle Vernon community,” Smichnick said. “He was deserving of the recognition, and it is fitting that the stadium now carries the names of two men who meant so much to so many people.”
Nancy Brewer Matsick of Belle Vernon, who was only 12 when her father died, said it is very comforting that his legacy continues to be perpetuated.
“It's so nice to hear from some of my patients or people throughout the Mon Valley that they still remember him,” said Matsick, who works as a medical assistant for Primary Care at the Monessen offices of Southwestern Pennsylvania Human Services. “It will be 40 years this summer since his death, but he has not been forgotten.”
She also noted that her son, Phil Matsick, is extending his grandfather's memory in a unique way.
“Dad graduated from Brownsville High School, and Phil is now a math teacher and the middle school basketball coach at Brownsville,” she said. “The Brewer spirit, you might say, has come full circle there.”
Matsick also recalled with fondness her father's outgoing nature.
“Dad had an awesome sense of humor and loved to share it with everyone,” she said. “There was never a dull moment with him. He always enjoyed having family and friends around a lot. There were always people over for Monday Night Football on TV, and he absolutely loved Christmas and going to Kennywood. He took (youth) football very serious and stared getting ready for the new season at the beginning of summer. He just loved it.”
Mayor John Perry and Belle Vernon Borough Council proclaimed Aug. 30, 1973, as William Brewer Day in the community. The traditional proclamation adopted by the municipal leaders said the action was taken to recognize Brewer as “one of the original organizers of the Midget Football League ... who served faithfully as head coach of the Vikings team” and to recognize and acknowledge “his many hours of unselfish devotion ...”
Joseph P. Caputo, past president of the Belle Vernon Rotary Club, emphasized the loss of Brewer in a note to Mary Lou Brewer a month earlier.
“Without question Bill will be missed in our community,” Caputo wrote on July 23, 1973. “And it is going to be tough finding someone to replace him.”
An editorial in The Valley Independent on Thursday, July 19, 1973, also offered a fitting and lasting tribute.
“Mr. Brewer helped organize the Belle Vernon Area Midget Football League and he coached the Vikings teams in that youth program,” the newspaper said. “Few people will take the time and effort to work with youngsters as Brewer and others like him have done.
“Bill Brewer wasn't on this earth as long as many of us but he leaves a void in the hearts of those who knew him and were privileged to call him a friend. He gave of himself so others would benefit. We could use more people like him.”
It was, and continues to be, a mandate that transcends time.
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Mon Valley warrant sweep yields 10 arrests
- Monongahela airman’s death commemorated
- Coyle Theater is back in the spotlight
- Ringgold senior Umbel introduced to politics as Senate page
- Monessen mayor: Bickering out, blight fight in
- Boatman: Many women face unique retirement problems
- Belle Vernon adds 5 to football hall of fame
- Paglia: Two Brooklyn Dodgers received rousing reception in visit to 1956 NAACP fete
- Reader requests more from ’44 on ‘This Day’ journey
- Cal U offers only undergrad degree in gerontology in Pa. system
- Residents hear about Fallowfield development plans