Former Akron baseball transfers adjust to Kent State life


Kent State Mid-fielder Mason Mamarello tosses a ball to himself while waiting for practice to start. Mason started playing for Kent State after Akron University shut down its baseball program earlier this summer.

Rachel Duthie

Mason Mamarella was playing baseball underneath the piercing rays of California summertime, when he received an email that would suddenly turn his life upside down. 

“Coach sent out an email (to everyone on the team) that Akron cut their baseball program, and I was in absolute complete shock,” Mamarella said. “There were rumors, but no one really thought this was going to happen.”

The University of Akron announced last May that it was eliminating 215 positions, and its baseball team, to save $40 million to combat declining enrollment. Earlier in the year, the school had raised tuition and induced other fees.

President Scott Scarborough, who was in his first year, placed the cuts to bring in more money for a major university revival plan.

Although the actions of the school didn’t go unheard, many individuals facing the eliminations saw themselves in a complete standstill, especially those on the baseball team.

Mamarella and Dom Iero, another former Zips baseball player, were completely lost after the announcement. It wasn’t until weeks after that their futures directed them to historic rival Kent State.

“(The rivalry) never bothered me,” Iero said. “I wanted to play for Kent because they had a good tradition, they have a good thing going for them. It’s a new atmosphere for sure, but it’s a good type of different.”

Coach Jeff Duncan contacted both boys once he noticed what happened to Akron’s baseball team. He says offering them positions was a great opportunity for the team.

“They are tough boys, and they were everyday kind of players at Akron so it wasn’t hard to spot them out,” Duncan said. “We welcomed them with open arms, and it has stuck like that.”

Now Flashes, the two juniors have been adjusting to life on Kent State’s campus. These past few weeks the men had to get used to making new friends and playing baseball for a completely different team.

“It has been hard,” Mamarella said. “Adjusting to campus and whatnot, but I really feel like I’m at home here. Everyone on the team has been really friendly.”

Despite losing their scholarships at Akron, Kent accommodated the boys with a house next to the baseball field as well as additional help around campus and within their classes. It has served both of them well.

“It really makes a difference. I love playing for this school,” Iero said. “While I’ll always miss my boys back home, I like being a Golden Flash. I’m excited to see what this team has in store for me.”

Rachel Duthie is a writer for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].