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Drabinski resigns as baseball head coach

After 18 years, program leader and ’07 Ivy champ coach quits midseason for unknown reason

Marek Drabinski, head coach of the baseball team for the past 18 years, resigned Friday, effective immediately. No reason for the abrupt decision has been announced, and Drabinski could not be reached for comment as of press time Sunday evening.

Drabinski replaced Bill Almon ’75 as head coach after the 1996 season. He compiled a career .395 winning percentage in 769 games with the Bears and led the team to its second-ever Ivy title in 2007. That season also saw Bruno make its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.

The longtime coach’s departure blindsided the team.

“It was a bit of a shock. We had to take a second or a minute to get a grasp on it,” said J.J. Franco ’14.

“We actually didn’t see it coming,” said Nate Kukowski ’14.

No one involved with the baseball team offered a reason why Drabinski resigned, and none said there were any noticeable signs of his discontent in the days leading up to the announcement. Drabinski himself did not talk to the team after his resignation, Franco and Kukowski said, and neither said they had spoken with him since hearing of his departure.

Franco said the team heard nothing specific, but players and coaches got a sense that “it was just a situation that was not working out, and a change was made.”

In the wake of this unexpected move, the assistant coaches have been forced into new roles, splitting head coaching responsibilities for the rest of the season. Third-base coach Grant Achilles is now in charge of the in-game offense, while first-base coach Louie Bernardini now manages the pitchers and in-game pitching decisions and assistant coach Mike McCormack works with the hitters.

“They did a good job stepping into their new set of shoes,” Franco said. But Drabinski’s absence was “a big change,” he added.

After his first weekend with his additional duties, Achilles spoke about the vacuum missing Drabinski created, saying, “any time you lose that presence, there’s going to be a different atmosphere.”

But Bruno was able to move past this major shock. The team’s first weekend without Drabinski was its best of the season — the team secured its first two Ivy League wins of the season, both against Harvard. Though the victories were a welcome development for the team’s prospects, facing a weak Harvard squad certainly helped.

Kukowski said he felt the team “gelled pretty well” in the first weekend without its former coach.

Drabinski’s departure “was definitely some adversity we had to face this week, but the guys did a good job of persevering,” he added.

Achilles agreed. “I think they became closer as a team,” he said.

Regardless of what changes Drabinski’s departure causes, team members said the squad’s objectives remain the same — staying focused on the remainder of the season.

“It doesn’t change anything we need to do while playing,” Kukowski said.

Franco said the team tried “not to let any distractions get in the way” for this weekend’s games.

“We approached the weekend like we approach every weekend,” he added.

With or without Drabinski, the Bears still have 16 games to play, eight of which are against conference foes. The team showed it could win Ivy games without the longtime coach this weekend, prompting hope it might be past its myriad difficulties from earlier this season.

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