Gabriel Lee reports on how one man never gave up on his hoop dreams
At the end of Ryerson’s men’s open basketball tryouts, head coach Roy Rana emphasized to the group of 16 Ram hopefuls that he would be in touch with those he wanted to play on the team. For the rest of them, he had a simple message.
“Get bitter or get better, there’s not much more I can really say.”
With his white tank top soaked in sweat to the point where it was practically see through, Logan Marrast took every single of the coach’s words to heart. He was one of Rana’s final cuts from last year’s open tryouts.
Throughout his entire high school career, Marrast was always the best player on his team. Despite his impressive performance on the court, he didn’t generate any serious interest from any post-secondary institutions, and as his 2010 graduation neared, so did the end of Marrast’s competitive basketball career.
“At one point I thought maybe that this game wasn’t for me,” said Marrast. “I [thought] ‘I already did all this in high school, maybe I should worry about school instead.’”
Despite second-guessing himself, Marrast still tried out for the Rams’ basketball team in 2010, but he was eventually cut because of his poor physical fitness and his inability to sustain a high level of play throughout the course of the practice.
With his dreams of basketball glory gone, Marrast decided to take an extended break from the game to gather himself mentally. However, as the winter semester started, Marrast couldn’t bare the prospect of not playing basketball competitively again.
To figure out where he went wrong, Marrast reached out to Rana, and asked him what aspects of his game he needed to work on.
“I was told to get into the gym, work on my conditioning and to get stronger,” he said.
From that moment forward, Marrast dedicated all of his spare time to his training regime.
In addition to attending every Rams game he could find time for, Marrast sat directly across from the Ryerson bench, ensuring that Rana would notice him.
From January to September, he made sure to get to the gym at least four times a week, and he drastically changed his eating habits in the hope that he would one day be on the team.
After having made it through two thirds of the open tryouts, Marrast was approached by the coaching staff to take part in a full practice with the team. Although he was now taking part in team practices, he was never told that he made the team. However, that all changed when Luke Staniscia, this year’s captain, took the fresh crop of players aside and assigned them rookie duties.
“I put two and two together and I asked Luke is this the real deal,” Marrast reflects. “And Luke said ‘yeah, you made the team.’”
Despite accomplishing what he worked the better part of 10 months for, Marrast isn’t satisfied yet. He practices with the mentality that he could still be cut at any time because as far as he’s concerned, “I’m at the bottom of the food chain.”
During one of their recent practices, there was a sequence during scrimmage when Rana’s top recruit, Aaron Best, was matched up against Marrast. Setting Marrast up with a crafty jab step, Best blew by him and dunked the ball emphatically with two hands.
“I still got a lot of work to do,” Marrast admits. “When Aaron blew by me and dunked, I felt horrible.”
Although the end to Marrast’s underdog story will become more clear when the Rams take the court at the beginning of November, Rana believes Marrast is a positive addition to the team and is encouraged by his steady improvement.
“I think everybody likes to see that Cinderella story. At times it could be a little frustrating because [he’s] a little further behind in terms of game experience,” Rana said. “I’ve been hard on [Marrast], but I’ve been very impressed by his commitment and his desire.”