From baseball stars to coaches, two alumni return to Rams

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By Joseph Casciaro

Two former Rams men’s baseball players are stepping back into the dugout this season, this time as coaches. 

Kevin MacDonald, a 2019 RTA sport media graduate and Mitch Fiacco, a 2020 accounting and finance graduate, said they want to give back to a team that improved their university experience. 

MacDonald spent his five years at Ryerson playing on the baseball team. After being involved with the program for so long, returning as a coach seemed like a great next step. 

“It was actually always a little bit of a joke when I was on the team,” said MacDonald. “Because I was so involved with everything, the guys were basically like, ‘Oh yeah, Kevin’s going to be coaching here once he’s done playing.’ [It came] full circle.”

Fiacco played for the Rams in 2018 and 2019 and is a former Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-star.

“I was a transfer student and when I came to Ryerson I joined the baseball team,” said Fiacco. “Basically it was the foundation of my entire university experience, I know how much of an impact it made on me.”

Former Rams pitcher Dorin Kean was MacDonald’s teammate in 2018. He said he’s someone his teammates wanted to give their all for. Kean recalled how MacDonald gave him the boost of confidence he needed to succeed at the team’s tryouts in 2018. 

The two sat on the bench together in the bullpen during the tryout and Kean was about to pitch. As Kean recalled, MacDonald was so confident in him that he not only said he was going to make the team, but also asked him what number he wanted to wear. 

“Before I had even taken the mound, he asked me what number I wanted, giving me the confidence that I knew I needed to go out, loosen up and feel as if I can actually do my best,” said Kean.

The ‘Ramily’ ties between Kean and the Rams’ new coaches don’t stop there. Fiacco has been friends with Kean for nearly two decades and they were teammates at Ryerson during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. 

“It was the foundation of my entire university experience, I know how much of an impact it made on me”

Kean described Fiacco as someone who was always a “spark plug” for the team and pushed others to work hard. He also cited Fiacco’s high baseball intellect as an attribute that will be beneficial to the program.  

MacDonald and Fiacco said they credit the baseball team as one of their favourite parts of university and have gained a lot of wisdom from the team.

“I know how much of an impact it made on my experience for my three years at Ryerson. The friends I made, the memories I made and friendships that are going to last a lifetime,” said Fiacco. “Now I want to help other people feel the same things that I felt and be a part of that same brotherhood that I was around.”

For MacDonald, the friendships he built with his teammates while with the Rams was something he called a “family connection.” Fiacco’s experience with the team goes even further, with his favourite moments happening away from baseball. 

“I missed the little things, like team dinner at Joey’s on Monday nights or going for drinks with the guys after a long weekend of games,” said Fiacco.

Kean also described Fiacco as the type of guy that teams need to have in every dugout because no matter how tired or beat down the team is, he’s there to pick them up.

He recalled the last game they ever played together, in the OUA quarter-finals against McMaster in 2019—a 23-13 mauling at the hands of the Marauders, a “football score” in the words of Kean.

“I remember it was a three-hour-long game and the entire way through [Fiacco] was up on the railing,” said Kean. “He was screaming, he was running out on the field, sprinting into his position, cheering on our guys and getting fired up.” 

“He would come back to the dugout after a difficult ending where we let in a bunch of runs and he’d get fired up and yell, ‘Boys let’s go, we’re not out of this, we’re not done,’” he continued. 

Both MacDonald and Fiacco have a deep love for the game, which is why they couldn’t stay away from the Rams baseball team even after graduating. Their experience and knowledge gained over the years will be a key component in helping a team with over 20 rookies navigate this upcoming season coming out of a pandemic. 

“I don’t think people will think too highly of us because we had so much turnover,” said Fiacco. “But that’s a beautiful thing because it’ll allow our guys to grow into better ball players in a low pressure environment where they could just shine and shock guys like we did when I was playing.”

The 2021 Rams baseball season has zipped by like a high-velocity fastball. They’re currently 4-3 on the year and they look to improve their record as the regular season closes out on the weekend of Oct. 2. The Rams will play four consecutive games against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues over 48 hours.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story states that Kevin MacDonald played for the Rams for four years, when in fact he played for five. The Eyeopener regrets this error.

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