Change-Up at Moran: New Field, New Coaching in Place This Spring
This spring, East Side neighbors and MB families have noticed significant changes at Moran Field.
For starters, MB has welcomed new head coach John Doll ’94. John returned to MB in 2019 to teach science in the upper school after 15 years at Dana Hall. He holds degrees in biochemistry and history from Rice University and earned his Ph.D. in Biology at MIT. He also coaches football and girls’ JV basketball at Moses Brown and was a noted athlete here himself, playing baseball, basketball and football for the Quakers. John is joined as coach by coaches Kim Norman (upper school math) and Steve Arruda (technology). Steve is in his 14th year coaching MB softball; Kim is in her first year coaching at MB, but coached softball for seven years at Choate Rosemary Hall in Conn. This will be their first full season coaching together as last year’s season was cancelled due to COVID.
John inherits the head coach spot from longtime coach Peter DeStefano P ’09 ’14, who coached MB’s team from 2011-2019 and stepped down to have more time for family.
MB will face teams from across Rhode Island in Division 1 this spring, from Chariho to St. Raphael’s.
While the field was a historic development at the school, part of efforts to bring gender equity to sports at MB, upgrades were due. Improving Moran Field this spring also brings the girls’ softball team into balance with recent improvements made to McCulloch Field, MB’s baseball facility.
Since 2016, Athletics, Operations, Development, and softball parents and supporters have worked together to vastly improve the facility to make Moran one of the best high school fields in the state. Initial efforts included aerating and rolling the infield annually to improve drainage, reducing the infield lip which caused balls to jump towards players, and purchasing an infield tarp (MB was the only softball program in the state not to have a rainout in 2019). These improvements helped, but MB still needed additional capital to gain equity with baseball and keep pace with improvements taking place with softball fields across the region.
In 2019 the Moran Softball Field Improvement Effort was included in the school’s $7 million Endowed Scholarship-Athletic Facilities Initiative, with goals of funding Need-Based Endowed Scholarship, as well as three key athletic facility projects: Moran Field, Campanella Field, and a new Fitness Center. The program targeted $400,000 for needed upgrades to Moran including new enclosed dugouts, home and away bullpens, batting cage enhancements, and permanent spectator seating. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of many and generous donations from supporters, the school began installation of the new dugouts and other improvements in late winter of this year, a significant first step in achieving the goals of equity, safety and having a first-rate softball facility. Current and past parents have been, and continue to be, the driving forces in making these improvements happen. “They have been great partners,” says Brian Platt of the Development office, “keeping our feet to the fire for the sake of gender equity.”
The improvements to the field will also bring the facilities up to the level of the players in the program.
The MB softball team has been a picture of excellence on and off the field. Due to the hard work of its players, Moses Brown has become one of the strongest programs in the area. MB Softball has been to three state finals in the past four seasons and were Division 1 State Champions in 2018; the team has also won five regular season division championships. The program competes in the top division in the state, despite being amongst the smallest schools in RIIL Softball.
More importantly, the team excels in the classroom. The 2019 team had 13 members recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as All-America Scholar-Athletes. Recent alumni have gone on to study and play at some of the finest colleges in the country, including Bowdoin, Cornell, Princeton, Smith, UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC-Wilmington.
Senior Captain Katie S. is one player who’s excited to see the field improvements. “This year we have a really young team that has a lot of potential,” she says. “Though we have faced adversity with the complexity of this school year, our girls worked hard in the off season and our early practices have been so much fun. We have several new players joining us this season and I am so excited to watch them as they continue to progress on the field. I know I can speak for the whole team when I say we are all so excited to have our new field for this year. It looks so beautiful, and we’re thrilled to have our season underway. Go MB!” Katie will head to Gettysburg to play softball next year.
Thanks to the Moran Field Improvement Committee for spearheading this development. The field looks great and spectators are now welcome to attend on-campus games. Check out a game!
See mbquakers.com for the season’s game schedule.