The latest guest on The Base Path Podcast has led one of the most successful programs in New England over the last five years. Loomis Chaffee coach Donnie McKillop joined hosts Dan Guttenplan and Matt Feld to discuss his team’s rise to the top of the Founders League since his hire in 2017.
Last year’s team went 18-2 on its way to a Founders League championship. That team included 19 players who have futures playing college baseball, including 11 D1 commits.
The commits include 2022 graduates Davis Hanson (Yale), Payten Wawruck (Fairfield), Charlie Biskupiak (Tufts), Thomas Cancian (Johns Hopkins), Evan Caulfield (Occidental), Matt Komo (Union), Kai Como (Kenyon) and Andrew McGowan (Wooster); 2023 graduates Chandler Coe (Texas Tech), Aidan Healy (Navy), John LaFleur (Holy Cross), Alex Tawa (Delaware), Phil Scott (William & Mary) and Louis Hernandez (MIT); 2024 graduates Gabriel Tirado (UConn), Jimmy Chadwell (Columbia) and Ian Brown (Navy); along with 2025 graduate Kai Nee (Duke).
“I think that the athlete as a whole, and especially in New England, has turned into a more elite-level athlete,” McKillop said. “There are more student-athletes who are prepared to be successful at the college level. The other piece is the amount of recruiting information that’s available. And kids have the ability to promote themselves. So, kids who typically had not been discovered and ended up at smaller schools now have the ability to choose between schools.”
McKillop’s team has a mix of players who were recruited as freshmen and older student-athletes who have reclassified or taken a postgraduate year to extend their respective recruiting windows. He believes the trend of athletes reclassifying is a net positive for the sport.
“Guys who are going off to play college baseball tend to be a year older,” McKillop said. “That’s an extra year to get another couple of miles-per-hour and physically and mentally more mature. At Loomis, we talk a lot about the social implications of that extra year … It gives kids time to get ready to be successful in a community and manage their time as well. I think it’s a huge benefit.”
McKillop also talked about experiencing a personal tragedy in the days leading up to his team’s Founders League championship game last spring. His parents, Donald and Patty McKillop, were traveling cross-county from their Poway, Calif., home in hopes of attending Loomis’ final game. Instead, they were tragically killed in a road accident near San Simon, Ariz.
“It was definitely the most heart-wrenching moment of my life,” McKillop said. “There were a lot of people around here that reached out and supported me at Loomis. I started when last year’s seniors were freshmen, so I had a lot of them for four years. It was a group that really became a lot like my family. I didn’t even ralize it, but they took our hats before the game and embroidered the word, ‘family’ on the side.”
Listen to the entire podcast with Donnie McKillop.
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