Mengel upheld rich family tradition
The Mengel family name has a rich tradition of athletics at Northwestern High School.
Brady Mengel is the latest name on that list to cap a successful athletic career at Northwestern, but the tradition started many decades earlier. His father, Jason, played baseball and basketball as a member of the Tigers. His grandfather, Rich Mengel, was a member of Northwestern’s first boys’ basketball district championship in 1964, while Brady’s great grandfather, Russell Stout, was the head coach. Rich also played hoops.
“The person who introduced me to the game was my father, so everything I know I give him the credit for,” Mengel said. “My dad played college baseball, so he knew pretty much everything about the game inside and out.”
In the winter it was basketball, where he was a member of the varsity team for four seasons. But his main sport of baseball came in the spring, one that he started playing since he was six years old.
This past baseball season was one of the better years in recent memory for Northwestern. The Tigers, after finishing the Colonial League regular season at 14-3 and earning the No. 2 seed in the tournament, finished as league runners-up to Bangor. They also qualified for districts, and while their run ended a bit prematurely in the first round, there was plenty to be proud of in 2016.
“This year was a little disappointing,” said Mengel, a Colonial League First Team selection at second base. “My last year I wanted to make it to our final goal of a district championship. But being a part of two great programs in my senior year means a lot.”
Mengel batted .413 on the season, good for second on the team, knocked in 22 RBIs and scored 19 runs. It was the fourth straight year that Northwestern qualified for the district tournament, and the second straight season it was a win away from earning a league title.
His dad’s influence on the game started with tournament baseball at a young age, when he started a team called the Lehigh Valley Stealth. And after Mengel played for the Lehigh Valley Venom for his first couple of years, he went under his father’s wings to earn plenty of championships up and down the east coast.
That’s when his dreams of playing college ball surfaced.
“If you play tournament travel ball at the age of 12 or whatever and you’re pretty into it, I think everybody has the mindset that they want to play in college,” Mengel said. “Because I started so young and baseball has been a part of my life, that was my dream to play college baseball.”
The high school season may have ended months ago, but Mengel is preparing for the next step of his career. He’ll report to Mansfield soon to begin preparing for their fall season.
“I’ve been lifting, conditioning, and practicing in the cage to get my swing ready,” Mengel said. “I think it’s going to be a fun experience.”
In the winter, Mengel traded his bat and glove in for some sneakers and a basketball. With four other senior starters, he was a key piece in turning around a Tiger program that went 2-14 two years ago, to a few games shy of qualifying for districts this past season.
Mengel scored 12 points per game and was arguably the Tigers’ best three-point shooter with 57 from beyond the arc in 2016. He ranks third all-time in school history in career threes.
“It means a lot coming from my freshman year, which on the basketball side we struggled,” said Mengel, who also added five assists, four rebounds and three steals per night. “My sophomore year in basketball we struggled. My junior year in basketball we struggled. And then for my senior year, for us to come along as a team and a program, it showed Northwestern has a winning side.
“Our class basically turned it around and said Northwestern isn’t the laugh of the town anymore. We were going to prove some things this year and make a run toward districts. We were close.”
To add to his list of accomplishments, Mengel was also named Northwestern’s Most Outstanding Male Athlete at the senior awards banquet in May. It was an award that, ironically, was named after his great grandfather and great grandmother, Russell and Roberta Stout.
“That is close to my heart,” Mengel said. “When I was given the award on stage, handing me the award was my grandmother, so I may or may not have shed a few tears that night.”
Mengel is scheduled to have at least four more years left of baseball as he heads to Mansfield, where he’ll pursue a degree in education to become a history teacher.
Once his playing days are over, he hopes to follow in similar footsteps of former Northwestern coach Len Smith, who coached for over 30 years at the school. He hopes to one day, too, lend his baseball knowledge to the next generation of kids growing up.