WELLSBURG - Nick Breen put on the tools of ignorance on a full-time basis over four years ago and he will continue to do so for the next four years.
The Brooke High graduate will continue his academic and athletic careers at Fairmont State University, where he will major in civil engineering and be a member of the baseball team.
"I had always been an infielder and would pitch when I was on a travel team, but when I moved up to high school, we didn't have a catcher and I kind of got stuck with the job and it's been non-stop catching ever since," he said.
"I pitch every once in a while, but I like catching. It feels right."
In addition to pitching and playing infield, Breen used to catch "every once-in-a-while" during travel ball.
"But, this time it stuck," he said.
"Our coaches really helped me out a lot. Obviously, coming from infield (third base) to catching was a big jump, but our coaches put in a lot of work helping me out. They did a great job."
One of the things Breen had to learn was a different throwing motion.
"The only difference was, instead of going all the way back, it was from the ear," he said. "Other than that, it just felt right to be behind the plate."
Breen was a Class AAA First-Team All-State selection the past three years by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association. He was a second-team selection as a freshman.
Breen batted over .400 all four years. He was at a .436 clip his senior season with nine doubles and 28 RBIs. He was walked 22 times and hit by pitch another 11. He was also perfect in 11 stolen base attempts.
"We didn't have a catcher when Nick was a freshman," said Brooke coach Ron Ujcich. "Our catcher had graduated the year before and no one stepped up to be the catcher. We worked he and another freshman at the position and they both had great arms. As we went through the drills and the next week of tryouts, we made a determination that Nick won the job and he never stopped working hard at the craft.
"He excelled at the position. He learned to like the position. You have to find someone back there who is willing to grin and bear it and Nick was willing to do that. You don't find that very often and that also made him better at the position.
"He knew how to call a game and we let him do that. If something wrong happened, we would talk to him about it between innings. He caught onto things very quickly. We only had to tell Nick once and he got it.
"He was a leader at the position from Day 1."
Breen had the opportunity to play at WVU or Marshall, but had to do so at a walk-on.
Fighting Falcons coach George Yanchak, a Brooke grad, just finished his fifth season as head coach.
"Coach U helped me out a lot," said Breen, who is playing Legion ball for Wheeling Post 1. "I was looking at WVU and Marshall, but they weren't going to have any scholarship money. Coach U talked to coach Yanchak and it went from there.
"I'd rather play than go sit somewhere for three years and play my senior year.
"I think I can step on the field and play right away."
Breen knows he didn't get to this point alone.
"I want to thank coach U and all the coaches for all their hard work with me," said Breen. "I want to thank my travel coaches, since I was young. Coach (Tom) Pasco, my Post 1 coach.
"I really want to thank my mom and dad and my family for all their support."