*Editor’s note: This team was selected by the previous staff that supplied sports content to The Nonpareil.
Brett Sears of Harlan Community has been named The Daily Nonpareil Athlete of the Year for his contributions in baseball, football and basketball. Sears has also been recognized as Area Baseball Player of the Year for the second consecutive time by The Daily Nonpareil.
The accolades piled up for Sears his senior year, as the triple-sport powerhouse was also named captain of the Class 3-A all-state baseball team by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association. Sears also took home the Gary and Sandy Nyhus Leadership Award and was selected as a utility player on the 16-player Super Team, which is comprised of the top players from all four classes within Iowa. Sears holds the school record with 36 wins as a pitcher.
Now, Sears is ready to kick off his collegiate career playing for the Leathernecks at Western Illinois University. Sears has been dangerous at the plate, and WIU coaches thought he could play middle infielder, but Sears said he thinks he will end up transitioning to full-time hurler for WIU.
“I think I offer more as a pitcher,” Sears said. “But there’s a lot of talent here. Obviously, my brother’s here. I really liked the program. I think they are up and coming, and I am looking forward to playing here.”
Dillon Sears, Brett’s brother, went off to WIU two years ago to play middle infield, and when Brett started visiting, he thought it would be a good fit for himself, too. The coaching staff at WIU began recruiting Sears early.
“This is kind of what I wanted,” Brett Sears said of the atmosphere at WIU. “Coming from a small town, I liked that this is a small community, too.”
Community is important to Sears and he speaks fondly about his time thrilling fans in Harlan.
“Harlan is great,” Sears said. “It’s a great community to play sports in. Everyone is just with you and you feel that — you feel that love. Everyone is so into sports there that you feel like you’re really playing for them.”
Sears may have shined in baseball, but he also led Harlan’s basketball squad in scoring, averaging 14.4 points per game. During football season, Sears hauled in 32 catches for a total of 610 yards and found the end zone often, with 14 touchdowns in his final year.
Harlan Community coach Steve Daeges said filling Sears’ shoes on the mound will be a tall order. Daeges credits Sears for his role in helping Harlan rise to the top of area teams in recent years.
“He’s one of the most dynamic players that Harlan has had in years,” Daeges said. “He was a five-year starter. I think he has a chance in the future to compete for a spot as a two-way player. He was quite a player.”
Sears returned compliments to Daeges.
“Steve Daeges is one of the best baseball coaches in the state of Iowa,” Sears said. “I learned something from him every day.”