Western hits jackpot with Pierini
A.N. Myer football coach Dave Buchanan would love to have seen what Sandro Pierini could have done on the football field this season.
Since the end of his Grade 11 campaign, Myer’s incumbent middle linebacker had grown two inches and packed 40 pounds of muscle on his 6-foot-2, 220-pound frame.
“I guarantee that if we had a game, even just one game for them (university scouts) to see this kid, they would be like ‘Who is this guy?’ ”
If not for the COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled high school sports, Buchanan was expecting a monster year from Pierini.
“The genetics have kicked in,” Buchanan said, referencing Pierini’s even bigger father, David Pierini. “We felt that that was going to happen and you could see him entering that growth stage. Last year, he was 180 pounds in Grade 11 so obviously we were looking forward to him being that type of player for us.”
Sandro was talking to Queen’s at the end of Grade 11 but during the pandemic, the school notified him that it didn’t have any spots left.
“I was forced to make a decision and I got some recruiting forms out to a couple of different schools, including Western, Laurier, McMaster and Guelph.”
He got a response from Western and Laurier with the former school making him an offer.
Pierini boasts an average in the mid-90s and is looking forward to studying at Western’s Ivey Business School.
“They have an amazing business program, it’s an amazing school and they have a reputation for winning and having people who are able to go on from their business program and have really great careers. It’s a great opportunity for me and for my goals beyond university.”
Buchanan feels it is a win-win for Western and Pierini. The player has signed with a great school and program and Western has “hit a bit of a jackpot” by landing the 17-year-old Niagara Falls native.
“The whole recruiting process has been tough and Sandro had some options but it wasn’t like he needed to play,” Buchanan said. “When Western saw the difference in size and they knew from talking to us about his leadership and the type of player he is, this is someone who is going to fit really well into their system. Not a lot of schools know about him because they haven’t seen him.”
Buchanan credited Pierini for using the down time of COVID to improve himself.
“He was growing anyways but he got really fit and strong. That was something he thought he could take care of during that time and he did that instead of sitting around and not doing anything.”
Pierini felt consistency was the key to his training.
“I was working out six days a week, keeping at it and keeping fit. It was running and lifting and actually doing it instead of sitting at home and watching TV.”
His motivation was obvious.
“I wanted to play university football somewhere and live out my dreams.”
Over the last year, he feels he has taken some solid strides to get there.
“The biggest thing I have added is that explosiveness factor,” he said. “I am able to be quicker than I ever was in Grade 9 and 10. That was the biggest knock I had on myself that I was kind of slow. I trained and got into biking, running and doing some explosive work so I could be quicker and stronger at the same time.”
Pierini would have loved to have had one more year of Myer purple and white before wearing Western purple and white.
“It was tough because I was really looking forward to it. Your Grade 12 year has so many memories and that’s when you are able to make so many plays and be the man,” he said. “I couldn’t wait to do that, especially after losing in my Grade 11 year. I wanted to come back and win and everyone in my class was working really hard. We were going to have a great team but that’s how the cookie crumbles. I now have an opportunity to play university and that’s the best option for me.”
The former travel player with the Niagara Generals and Niagara Spears knows it won’t be easy at Western.
“I got recruited for my long snapping abilities as well and I will be looking to dress my first year, maybe for long snapping,” he said. “Going forward, I am hoping to start at defensive end, linebacker or wherever they want to put me.”
He can’t wait to get started.
“I looking forward to having fun and I know I am going to have a helluva time at Western. It’s a great school, I will be in a great program and it has a great football program.”
Buchanan is confident Pierini will succeed on the field and in the classroom at Western.
“He’s a brilliant kid so he will learn their system quick. That is huge because that is a big transition from high school to university,” he said. “What will separate him is that he will go to school do well and that’s the most important thing. Then he will show up to practice and he knows he has to work for it and put in his time.”