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Baseball brothers take to the diamond together

spring 2012 karmeris

The phrase “keep it in the family” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to the University of North Florida’s baseball team. The Karmeris brothers — Andrew, Paul and Nick — have grown up playing baseball together in their hometown of Palm Beach Gardens. But this year, they did something they’ve never done before: played on the same team.


Andrew, 23, a senior international business and economics major, played in his final season as a utility player, as he graduated in April, while Paul, 20, a junior sports management major, started the season as a catcher. 


Last year, Paul transferred from Ocala to Jacksonville, where he and Andrew played at UNF together for the first time. This year, the UNF team made another Karmeris addition:  kid brother Nick, an 18-year-old left-handed pitcher and outfielder.


Paul says his relationship with his brothers off the field doesn’t affect their focus when on the field.


“On the field we are teammates. Off the field we are family.”


Having played baseball together for most of their lives, the Karmeris brothers motivate and even influence each other when it comes to aspects of the sport.


“Andrew is the reason I became a catcher,” says Paul. “But in terms of playing, he comes to me for advice.”


“Pauly has seen me hit my whole life, so who better to ask advice from?” said Andrew. “But off the field, we never really talk about baseball. We leave work at work.”


Even Nick said playing alongside his older brothers is one of his cherished memories.


“I played with Paul one year when I was 6 years old,” he said. “I moved up with Paul who was 8 at the time, which never happened. As a lefty, my dad put me at third base and everyone would question it but it went really well. We won the championship that year.”


The brothers said their close relationship doesn’t necessarily affect their attitudes on the field, but Nick has just one complaint.


“Being the youngest, I still get picked on,” he said. “My brothers don’t tell me what to do on the field, but off the field they always have something to say.”


Playing on the same team may not have an effect on Andrew, Paul or Nick, but their mother, Genevieve, would say otherwise. 


“This is a pretty rare thing and I am so excited,” says Genevieve.


In the past, Genevieve Karmeris was split between three different cities, Nick in Palm Beach Gardens, Andrew in Jacksonville and Paul in Ocala, to watch each of her sons play baseball. This season, she only had to travel to one.


“[Mom] is a wild cat. She comes to as many games as she can,” said Andrew. “She is always traveling with us.”


“One year she even traveled to New Orleans to see us play,” said Paul.


All three brothers are very appreciative of their mom’s dedication to their sport.


 “I think it’s a good thing because you can’t look back and regret not doing it,” said Nick.


With a fairly new coach, a few new players and another Karmeris brother added to the roster, the team has undergone some serious changes in the past few years, but the Karmeris brothers agree that this season was different.


Though the brothers manage to play nicely together on the field, there is some friendly competition among them.


“Whenever we play inner-squads, I always want to see them get out,” said Andrew. “Last year Pauly was a pitcher and every time he got me out in inner-squads, it was very annoying. And this year Nick was a pitcher. You’d think I would know what they’re going to do, but I don’t.”


For Nick personally, the new season presented a few new challenges: a new team, new players and a new schedule.  Having to weight-train before class and then attend practice later in the day, he was usually wiped out by the time he returned home — all three brothers lived together with their fellow teammate Michael Wesner.


“We didn’t weight-train in high school for baseball so it’s a change seeing everyone able to hit and throw harder and farther,” Nick said.” Weights definitely improved my game for sure. I didn’t get tired as easily.”


Despite the added obstacles of the new season, each brother brought his own strengths to the team.


“My strengths, I’d say, are my strong arm, and I like to control the game,” Paul said. “That’s why I like to catch, because I’m always in control.”


Andrew has been a catcher throughout most of his career but he says that as long as he is playing, it doesn’t matter what position.


“My main strength on the field is hitting. I’m also the biggest shortstop in the league, no big deal.”


Joking aside, both Nick and Paul agree that Andrew can hit “freakishly far.”


And while Nick may only be a freshman, don’t let his fresh-meat status fool you.


“As a freshman, I feel like I’m lower on the totem pole. But my strength on the field would be that I’m left-handed. And I’m not the fastest in the outfield but I take good routes to get to the ball.”


Andrew, Paul and Nick pack the team with immense talent. Between balancing school and sport, the Karmeris brothers make playing together look easy. But there is one thing they all disagree on: who is mom’s favorite?


“The biggest mama’s boy is me,” said Paul.


“Definitely me,” said Andrew.


“I’m going to say myself,” said Nick.