Favorite athlete: Justin Turner
Favorite team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Favorite memory competing in sports: Winning the championship for the Fort Washington Generals this past summer. This is my first championship that I have ever won which is why it’s so special to me. I had come in second place around five times in all other sports throughout my life but I finally won last summer!
Funniest/most embarrassing thing that has happened competing sports: During practice, one of my teammates was running back to first base in order to not get doubled up because the second basemen went into shallow right field to catch the ball. When he went to slide (head first), he did a complete scorpion and slid directly on his face for about two feet until he came to a complete stop, and then just laid there while groaning for a few seconds. Every single person was cracking up and it was definitely the worst slide that I had ever seen in my life. Luckily, he was fine and only had a few scrapes on his face but I was almost in tears from laughing so hard.
Music on mobile device: I mainly listen to rap, but I also mix in some alternative as well as rock.
Future plans: I would like to be involved in either marketing or advertising for a professional sports team.
Favorite motto: “Never, never, never give up” - Winston Churchill
One goal before turning 30: Be married and have two children, while working at a job that I truly enjoy.
One thing people don’t know about me: I’m very interested in tattoos. My older brother has always liked them and that’s where I learned about them first. He has many of them, including very large ones (an arm sleeve, his whole back, calf, and more), and I love the artwork that they all include.
By Ed Morrone
By the time he was in first grade, Riley Brink had lived in California, Arizona and then the Sunshine State again, but Upper Dublin has always felt like home to the well-traveled senior baseball player.
Brink was born in Glendale, Calif., outside of Los Angeles, and spent the first five years of his life there. His father’s job as a mechanical contractor moved the family to Arizona for eight months, then back to California before the Brink clan moved eastward to Pennsylvania, where they’ve been ever since. In fact, Brink said the family was supposed to move again, but after the stock market crashed in 2008 and the fact that a man Brink’s father was supposed to replace in another city decided to stay put, so did the Brink’s.
It’s worked out wonderfully for both Brink and Upper Dublin.
“I’ve enjoyed it here very much,” Brink said. “Upper Dublin has been a great place for me to grow up; all of my friends have been here since second grade. I’m thankful to not be in my two older brothers’ shoes, who had to move around when they were in seventh or eighth grade and high school. It’s been nice to grow up in the same spot around a bunch of friends in a great neighborhood. Two or three years ago, we moved into another house a mile away even closer to all my baseball buddies. I couldn’t really ask for a better spot … well, besides the weather.”
Baseball has been a constant in Brink’s life since he was small. Having two older brothers who also played the sport, he described himself as the mascot of whatever teams his siblings were on, spending most of his time outside school at baseball fields. Brink began playing T-ball when he was four or five, and aside from some intermural church league basketball, America’s pastime has always been his main sport of focus.
Brink didn’t become an immediate starter for the Upper Dublin varsity program as a freshman. In fact, he was cut from JV in ninth grade and relegated to the freshman team, where he had his most determined season as a hitter, so that “there was no question on making the team” the next time out, according to his recollection.
He did just that as a sophomore, playing JV all season before ascending to varsity as a junior, mostly as a utility infielder off the Upper Dublin bench. This season has been Brink’s first as a full-time varsity starter, as he’s entrenched himself at third base and usually in the No. 2 or 3 hole in the Cardinals batting order.
In Brink’s two years with the varsity squad, Upper Dublin has scuffled in the standings. The Cardinals went 6-14 overall and 4-10 in the SOL American Conference a season ago, good for sixth place, and so far this year sit at 3-8 and 2-6 and in seventh. That said, the team has been in a lot of games against some really strong competition, and Brink has taken his job as a leader seriously. Even in defeat, he has tried to be a role model that his teammates and coaches can rely on.
“Even though our record isn’t great, being a leader is something I’ve always prided myself on,” Brink said. “I want to be someone that guys can come to when they’re in need. I looked up to the seniors in how they led us last year when things weren’t going so easily. We had a lot of talent and couldn’t get it going for whatever reason, and they kept their heads up and continued to push us all.
“It’s what I’ve tried to implement this year. I’ve always been a louder guy on the bench in rooting my teammates on, and I try to be the first guy up to say ‘Good play’ and high-five my team and encourage them. You have the keep the energy flowing even when you lose, or else things can spiral quickly. It’s about maintaining positivity, even when things aren’t going our way. I’ve been looking forward to being a varsity starter and leader since I was a little kid going to the Upper Dublin baseball camps, and now that I’m in that position, it’s a role I take seriously.”
Upper Dublin head coach Ed Wall coached both of Riley’s older brothers, so he’s known the Brink family since its youngest member was in third grade.
“First off, his mom and dad are incredible, tough people,” Wall said. “Me personally, I’m so lucky to be a part of their lives and get to coach their children. My life has been better since knowing that family and getting to coach Riley. This season hasn’t been what we had all hoped for, but I never doubted for a second that they wouldn’t come out and play hard the next day because we had taken a loss.
“Riley stepped up as a leader and has maintained positivity throughout. He pushes his teammates and they want to win for each other, and it just speaks volumes as to who he is as a person.”
Wall recalled how that this past winter, Brink was recovering from a back injury that prevented him from lifting weights during the team’s offseason workouts. Despite Brink’s physical limitations, he was still in attendance at 5:45 a.m. every day.
“He was there doing cardio, talking with the guys and showing them the importance of being there with his team,” Wall said. “Riley takes the worst moments and continues to turn them into positives. He understands there will be bad times, but if he keeps working through them, good things will soon come.
“On the field, he’s one of our best defenders, as well as one of our most consistent hitters at putting the ball in play at the top of our lineup. He plays smart with his mind and body, and it’s why he’s gotten to where he is. As a person, he’s just so darn smart, and it’s been fun for me to watch him grow and get ready to take the next step on his own, just like his brothers.”
As for that next step, for Brink it will be attending the University of South Carolina. While he may try to play club or intermural baseball, the sport was not a factor in choosing where he wanted to go to college. He’s interested in studying business, stating that he’d like to work in marketing or advertising for a professional sports team one day. Brink knew he didn’t want to stay local for college, and initially he had decided to attend San Diego State University before reconsidering.
He’s going to be living with a friend of his at South Carolina, which will certainly make the transition of being far from home a little bit easier. He’s got an uncle who lives near the campus in Columbia, and additionally has an aunt and uncle and grandparents who live about two hours from campus. Not only that, but one of Brink’s older brothers is in the army and stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and he cited having family members relatively close by as a lifeline.
“As much as I love it where I live, I always knew I didn’t want to stay around here for college,” Brink said. “College is an opportunity to branch out and see who you’re going to become. My brother who is in the army went to the University of Hawaii, and I see his transformation and the man he is now, how he isolated himself to push himself out of his comfort zone. Doing that really helps you grow, and having family within a couple hours’ drive as a lifeline didn’t sound like a bad idea to me. I’m super pumped.”
As for the rest of his senior season, Brink hopes to win as many games as possible with Upper Dublin before he graduates. He’ll play this summer with the Fort Washington Generals, a club team that allowed him to achieve his first-ever championship a year ago. After coming so close a handful of times to winning a title, Brink finally broke through the barrier. It was such a rewarding experience with the Generals that he is hoping for a repeat of last summer.
“Everything fit together perfectly, and it was the best chemistry and most fun of any team I’ve ever played on,” Brink said. “We got to play in a stadium-like atmosphere, and I’ll always remember that last out made and us all dog piling on top of each other. I always imagined that moment growing up and never got the chance as I watched other teams celebrate in front of me. I’m smiling now just thinking about it. It was an awesome experience.”
Wall said he will absolutely miss not having Brink around next season, but he’s more thankful for the four years he got to be around him in the school building, as well as the two seasons he coached him at the varsity level.
“To think this kid wouldn’t land on his feet wherever he goes is crazy,” Wall said. “He’s got a good head on his shoulders, and that comes from having a lot of life experiences. He’s got a great diversity of friends, which helps him appreciate life in general and all the things that come with it. He’s interested in academics, athletics, art … I see him in physical education class and there’s 60 kids between the two classes. He’s the type of kid who will talk to anybody. He’s so likable and down to earth that he can find a way to relate to anyone in school, even if they are outside his immediate core group of friends.
“And he cares so much, about baseball and academics and family — he has his priorities straight, which is a real testament to his upbringing. His heart is so big, and that’s not something you can easily cultivate in a kid. He and his family mean so much to our program, and to me in general as well.”
Wall said his favorite memory of coaching Brink was in a game last year. Quakertown was having its way with Upper Dublin, so Wall sent Brink up as a pinch hitter. In a big varsity moment against a very talented pitcher, Brink ripped a hit to right-center, putting a smile on his face that was contagious to Wall and everyone else in the Upper Dublin dugout.
Those are the moments both player and head coach will miss when the season ends.
“Baseball is one of the few sports where you fail most of the time, even the most successful players,” Brink said. “I think the reason a lot of people stop playing is because of the amount of failure involved being hard to swallow. It’s given me a lot of patience and taught me that when things outside of baseball aren’t going so well, you can’t hang your head because you miss out on opportunities if you’re still moping about the last failure.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence that I can ultimately get the job done, even if I fail along the way. What I’ve always loved most about baseball is that it’s such a harsh game that at the same time teaches you a lot of life lessons.”