When it comes to Venice High baseball, there’s always a role model to shape yourself after.
For Scott Dubrule, those players were the likes of University of Florida alums Dalton Guthrie and Mike Rivera.
For 2019 Venice shortstop and captain Kevin Dubrule, the influence was his older brother, Scott — a starter and team captain.
Kevin, an eighth grader at the time, remembers sitting in the stands of JetBlue Park in the spring of 2015 as he watched Scott win a state championship with the Indians.
That memory is just one of several positive influences that has shaped Kevin Dubrule, the Sun’s All-Area Player of the Year, into the leader he’s become today.
From a dad who served in the Marines for 25 years, to a loving and supportive mom to an older brother who went on to play college baseball, Kevin has had the path to success laid out for him.
“It was cool having my older brother there my freshman year when he was a senior because he was able to take me under his wing and show me the ropes,” Kevin said. “I watched him do things right his entire baseball career, and I still continue to see it. He’s been a big influence on me. He works hard. He doesn’t slack off. Just watching him develop every year inspires me and keeps me going.”
Leading a championship comebackAll of these positive influences are why it wasn’t much of a surprise when Kevin, one of the Indians’ three 2019 captains, was at the heart of Venice’s rallies in the state tournament on the way to a second straight state championship.
The senior shortstop began both of Venice’s comebacks with hits as Scott — now a player for Jacksonville University — took his turn watching from the stands.
“It was daily leadership from him. At practice, in workouts, during games,” Venice coach Craig Faulkner said of Kevin Dubrule. “In the state semifinal game, everyone’s in a little bit of a panic because we’re down four runs. Not him. He was gathering people together, getting them in a huddle and saying, ‘Listen. We are coming back. Do not drop your head.’
“I was looking around like, ‘Why aren’t we going out onto the field?’ And it was because Kevin gathered our players and was leading them to rise up and not fall in that moment. It’s a lot of pressure. It would have been easy to cash it in and say, ‘We got behind, that team’s too good. We’re not coming back.’ But Kevin Dubrule would just not let that happen.”
Venice then cut its 7-3 deficit to Creekside to 7-6 by scoring once in the fourth inning and twice in the fifth, but the Indians were still trailing with just six outs remaining.
As Dubrule dug in to lead off the sixth, he wasn’t about to go down without one more fight. The senior worked a full count before sending the sixth pitch of the at-bat into right field for a double. Two walks followed Dubrule, and he ended up tying the game by scoring on a balk before Venice completed its comeback win in extra innings.
“Going up to the plate I was telling myself, ‘This is the spot you want to be in, right?’ This is what I would think about as I’ve been training,” he said. “I’m glad I got the opportunity.”
Again in the state championship, it was up to Kevin to kickstart a rally.
Trailing Doral Academy, 2-0, and down to its final six outs, Venice needed its leader to step up once again.
He promptly sent the first pitch he saw into left field for a single, and one batter later, scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the Indians’ eventual 3-2 win.
But leadership and excellence like Kevin’s don’t just happen overnight.
It’s been a result of years of hard work and dedication — working through Little League, the Florida Burn, and finally to Venice High.
A military mindsetKevin and Scott’s dad, Mike Dubrule, retired from his position at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and moved his family to Venice when Kevin was about 10 years old.
Since then, much of the Dubrules’ focus has remained on the military and baseball.
So when Kevin took a trip to Washington D.C. as a part of Mike’s “Young Marines” program when he was 12, it was only natural that he fell in love with the idea of serving his country.
“He never let us goof off or mess around, but it’s not like he ever forced leadership on us or anything,” Scott said of his dad. “I think Kevin has just learned from him and decided on his own that’s the person he wants to be.
“He’s always been fascinated by (the military). He’s wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps.”
When the time came to apply to college, Kevin already had in mind that he wanted to go to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The only obstacle was getting in.
Following about two years of work including maintaining grades and taking exams, Kevin also had to write essays, get teacher recommendations, undergo several physical examinations and finally be appointed by a congressman before he had a shot of getting in.
Some time in October, he heard back that he was the fourth person in his class to be accepted to the academy.
“It was a dream come true,” Kevin said of receiving his acceptance letter. “It kind of felt like I was on Cloud 9. It was a big deal for me.”
Shortly, he will head off to West Point, New York, where he is also committed to play for the baseball team as a middle infielder — where the Black Knights’ starting shortstop and second baseman are set to graduate this year.
Following his time at the academy, Kevin will have to serve in the military for five years to pay back his free schooling.
He hopes to learn how to fly when he graduates so he can have the option of a career in the military, but he’s leaving his choices open for now.
“He’s going to West Point, and they’ve got a great one coming,” Faulkner said. “Not only a great baseball player, but a great leader. It wouldn’t surprise me if we look up one day and this young man is a general or a president. That’s how special he is.”
The making of a leaderIt’s often said that the best leaders are the ones who don’t set out to be just that.
Beginning as a freshman backing up Scott at second base, Kevin observed how older teammates led a defending state championship team.
It also didn’t hurt that he grew up in a house of two brothers — including younger brother David — to keep him competitive and on his toes.
But while it’s easy to point to all the influences and examples around him, it’s still always been up to Kevin to follow the path laid out for him.
“I’m not really sure, I think it’s just the way he is,” Scott said as to why people are drawn to Kevin’s lead. “It’s just kind of been expected. It runs in the family, I guess.”
The positive example Kevin has set extends beyond the baseball diamond, too.
Along with leading team meetings and holding other players accountable, Kevin is also a player who puts everyone else before himself.
“More important than his baseball play is who he is as a man,” Faulkner said. “He is selfless. He cares more about everyone else. He cares more about his teammates, he cares more about his coaches, he cares more about his friends. He even cares more about his dog, Brownie. It’s amazing. The guy does everything right.
“Everyone likes him because he cares about everybody. There’s not a person who I’ve ever been around that has a negative thing to say about him.”
Though his time at Venice is now done, it won’t be long before another Indian rises the ranks as an infectious leader — with Kevin Dubrule to thank as setting the right example.
“It showed me some things about being a team and leadership that I hadn’t known,” Kevin said of winning back-to-back state titles. “You can really take a group of guys, form a bond and do a lot of great things. We were a really tight group, especially this past year.
“It showed me the power of team camaraderie.”