GEORGETOWN — Justin Spurr bleeds the blue and white of Georgetown.
Spurr also lives for baseball. A graduate of the Georgetown class of 1996, Spurr played catcher for the Royals. He was named an all-star in his junior year and all-league in his senior year.
He then went on to play ball at Endicott College and returned to the field as a freshman coach at Pentucket under Tom L'Italien for two years, then graduated to junior varsity coach for two more.
"At Pentucket, I was right in with the green and white with the Sachems," says Spurr. "But the blue and white never left. This is where I really wanted to end up. This is the only place where I would want to be a varsity coach. I wouldn't take a varsity coaching job anywhere else."
Lucky for Spurr, the job was available, and now, he's the Royals' skipper.
After his time with the Sachems, Spurr returned to Georgetown as Mark Rowe's assistant coach. But as the 2011 season began, Rowe had a secret to tell Spurr.
"He told me that it could be his last year, but he wasn't sure," Spurr says of Rowe, who retired after last season to spend more time with his family. "So, he started grooming me, just in case. He had me going to the all-league meetings, and he would let me draw up practices. So, it started then. But I didn't know until I went through an interview process. I had a formal interview, and I was appointed to the job in January. I know Mark personally went to the school and gave a recommendation, and I'm grateful for that."
Interestingly enough, what Spurr is trying to bring to Georgetown comes more from what he learned as the freshman and junior varsity coach at Pentucket.
"What you learn at the freshman level is more challenging as a coach," says Spurr. "Because you're given kids and you have to break bad habits as a coach."
In that spirit, Spurr is building the program from the bottom up all the way from T-ball.
"I just wanted to do what was good for the whole program," Spurr says. "Because I grew up here.
"You always think that you're ready," Spurr adds. "You always think that you can be a varsity coach. But until you actually go every step of a program, you don't truly know. And if I didn't go through the steps, I don't think I could be as confident as I am now."
And Spurr is confident in his team, very confident. The biggest thing the Royals have going for them right now is their memory. Specifically, the memory of their last game of the 2011 season, losing to Cohasset in the state finals, 6-1.
"We have, I believe, a better team than last year," Spurr says. "Our goal is not the league title; our goal right now is the state final. We're going for the championship."
"I told (the players) from day one, we have the team that can do it," Spurr says. "We were right there (against Cohasset). We were wining (1-0). We had the bases loaded, and it was ground out, ground out. We surrendered an opportunity. We were on our heels, and (Cohasset) loaded the bases. Ground ball to first base, wild throw to home, totally changed the game. I believe Cohasset is a great team, but I believe we could have beaten them."
Spurr's players feel the same urgency, but none more than senior pitcher and co-captain Ryan Browner.
"I've had a couple of playoffs with baseball and soccer," says Browner, who also made it to the state final on the pitch, only to fall to Sutton, 3-1. "And I haven't quite finished the job. So, this is my last shot."
"I feel really confident that we can make it to the state championship game," says Browner's battery mate and fellow co-captain Mark Berkland. "We made it last year with Mark Rowe, and Spurr helped us. He's a phenomenal coach. With him and our two assistant coaches (Phil Desilets and Steve Coco), they have great reputations. We should make it. I think we're one of the stronger teams."
Leaving a strong team and a strong program to Georgetown was of major concern to former coach Rowe. But with Spurr at the helm, Rowe can rest easy.
"I'm not sure how comfortable I would have been retiring last year without thinking that Justin would be there to take over," says Rowe. "It would not be easy for me to leave the program to someone whose background is not as solid. And being that he's a Georgetown guy, especially, let me know that it would be in good hands."
Kind words from a man whom, along with Pentucket's L'Italien, Spurr credits as someone who made him the coach he is now.
"Without them, I wouldn't be where I am," Spurr says.