Not-So-Freshman Feature: Marlon Rainville Gets The Call Up
Athletics, including baseball, has always been a passion of Marlon Rainville’s. For the past three years, however, it was not his top priority.
“I was really focused on academics for the first three years I was [at Cornell],” the walk-on senior and mechanical engineer from the Boston area told me. The rigorous major, which Rainville described as requiring a “crazy amount of work”, occupied the majority of his time. As he entered his final year at Cornell, he decided to get more involved in sports. He joined the sprint football team as a wide receiver. But baseball had always been his favorite sport, and so after spending last summer in Ithaca to get ahead on his studies, he decided to try out.
He, along with sprint football teammate Rob Pannullo, made the team as walk-ons. He credited his three years playing on the club baseball team with “keeping him involved” and maintaining his skills to a degree where he was able to show that he was worth a spot on Coach Dan Pepicelli’s first squad. In high school and on the club team, Rainville was a middle infielder. But to make the team this year, he would have to adjust. “The way the team was structured, at the time I walked on, there was a need for outfielders,” he said. He made the switch, and he’s currently competing for the fourth outfielder role behind Jordan Winawer, Parker Morris and Jamie Smith.
He described his foot-speed as his best tool, noting that he can help the team by tracking down fly balls and threatening to steal bases on offense. Asked whether he was nervous to start playing competitive baseball for the first time in high school, he said no: “Honestly I’m excited, there’s nothing to be nervous about,” beaming with anticipation. As a walk-on senior coming to the team in a new coach’s first season, Rainville and fellow walk-on Panullo have unique perspectives on the state of the team. He said the team is particularly close knit, which is a benefit when it comes to keeping each other motivated to improve their own games.
His initial impression of Coach Pepicelli has been very positive. He admires Pepicelli’s ability to keep the team focused and use practices very efficiently. “Every time we’re on the field, we’re treating [practice] like a game,” he said. The team has the potential to surprise this season, and can compete for an Ivy League title, Rainville said.
His two greatest interests after sports are cars and music. When he is not playing baseball or focusing on his studies, he may be maintaining the BMW he has on campus or playing the guitar. His dream car: an Aston Martin. The greatest guitarist of all time: Carlos Santana, who Rainville says is overlooked.
With the unusual path he took to the team, it would be reasonable for an observer to overlook Rainville himself. Considering the dedication he has shown to his other endeavors, however, would make that underestimation naïve.