No one truly likes to lose. Some tolerate it, others couldn’t care less. But those who sincerely hate to lose are the die-hard winners. You can see it in their faces, in their actions. The slight glare in their eyes, mixed with excitement for the sheer love of the game. The confidence in the way they walk up to the plate, knowing they’re going to tear the cover off of the ball. The look on their face that comes with a crushing defeat: anger stemming from the loss and determination to win the next one. You can tell the winners from the kids who are simply going through the motions to get their varsity letter. Winners hate to lose, and John, well clearly John hates to lose.
2013, 2015, and now 2017. Three different years. Three different teams. Three different captains. Just one family.
The Reissfelder family.
The Reissfelders have created a legacy of sorts within Westwood baseball as all three brothers—Billy, Joe, and John—have earned the title of varsity captain.
“Growing up watching them [Billy and Joe] play baseball left a mark on me. I loved seeing them captain the outfield, and it’s great to now be like what they were,” John explained. “We’re very similar, and it was good to be named captain after they both were. I know that they support me.”
On top of the support from his brothers, John’s father, Bill Reissfelder has been encouraging him since K-ball. “I think I started playing because my dad wanted me to,” laughed John, “but I’ve loved the game ever since.” Bill coached his boys’ baseball teams year after year, and was also a key member of the Westwood Varsity Baseball team when he was in high school. Clearly his father’s prompting paid off, as John and his two older brothers have all excelled in the game.
Not only have they made an impression on Westwood baseball, but the Reissfelder boys have maintained a spotless reputation outside of the diamond. Jimmy Vanaria, head coach of the Varsity team noted, “They come from a great family. They’re all really supportive of each other.” In fact, on Joe’s spring break, he took the time to catch one of his brother’s games in Holliston, a game they won 13-5.
Families can serve as a built in support system, but inevitably, there is competition among siblings. The talents of Billy and Joe bring along high expectations for John. Rather than let these expectations define him, he nobly takes it in stride: “There are definitely a lot of jokes, but it’s good to have them as brothers as I know they’ve done a lot of great things.”
Billy, now in his senior year of college, co-captained the team that made a run all the way to the semifinals of the Division 3 South Sectionals. In a heartbreaking loss, they fell 7-6 in extra innings to Abington after holding the lead for most of the game.
Joe, now a sophomore in college, co-captained the team that went undefeated through the regular season, winning both the Russ Downes Tournament and the Tri-Valley League title. The 2015 team fell to Plymouth North in the quarterfinals of the Division 2 South Sectionals. Joe finished his career batting .318, with a .966 fielding percentage, and 18 stolen bases.
Now, along with seniors Anthony Fabiano and Brian Guarino, John is hoping to follow in his brothers’ footsteps by returning with a winning season, and maybe even making a run at a state title.
Currently, John has a .353 on-base percentage and perfect fielding average.
“The Reissfelders are pretty big name in Westwood baseball, so I know he [John] has big shoes to fill, but I don’t doubt that he can do it,” senior Mark Bernardo confidently remarked.
Vanaria agreed, “The brothers are similar in the fact that they lead by example. Billy and Joe were great assets to the program, as is John right now.”
Part of the reason why John earned the title of captain was his fight—which naturally enabled him to be the key player in a handful of games during his junior year.
In the 4-3 win against Hopkinton last year, John went 2-for-3, coming in clutch in the last inning with a double that scored three. In addition to his offensive contributions, Reissfelder finished the 2016 season with a .957 fielding average in the outfield.
Living up to and perhaps exceeding standards set by siblings can be difficult, but John has the encouragement and admiration of his teammates. Co-captain Brian Guarino simply states, “He loves the game. He always knows what to do.” This season is John’s chance to succeed.
And succeed he has.
On Thursday April 27th, Westwood hosted Dover-Sherborn, a matchup that resulted in extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth, score tied at 0-0, John confidently stepped up to the plate with one out and Guarino on third. Players like John live for these situations—situations that call for someone to take charge, to make a difference. Over the cheers of parents, teammates and coaches, the crack of the bat rang out as John drilled the ball to shallow right field, scoring Guarino and recording the game winning hit.
With a 7-3 record to start off the season, there is no way Westwood shouldn’t be confident. Vanaria stated optimistically, “We have a really strong team this year led by John, Anthony and Brian, and I think we have some really good talent, so hopefully we’ll have a successful year.”
Who knows, maybe with the contribution of John’s family background, experience, and leadership, the 2017 team could be the team to finally win the state championship. Afterall, like state championship winners, John Reissfelder truly hates to lose.