Austin Peay HC: "We will be recruiting Canadians like nobody's business"

Tillie Burlock
PBR Ontario Scout

After playing against Austin Peay back in 2019 as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for Kentucky, Roland Fanning never imagined he would work his way up to a head coaching job with the Governors. 

On June 2nd, Austin Peay officially introduced Fanning as their new head coach. As a decorated member of the Division I coaching community with 15 years in the books, the announcement of his first head coaching job caught the attention of the college baseball world. But especially north of the border where Fanning has found his own recruiting niche.

In his time at Kentucky, Fanning worked with numerous Canadians such as Elliott Curtis, and Tristan Pompey. He even recruited Burlington’s Owen Caissie at the Future Games prior to signing with the San Diego Padres in 2020. 

As the director of player development at Oklahoma State, Fanning also worked with Ontario Blue Jays alumni Max Hewitt and the Ontario Nationals' David Mendham. 

Carrying over to Austin Peay, Fanning has plans to continue his pursuit of talent up north. 

“Austin Peay will be recruiting Canadians like nobody's business,” said Fanning. “There have been countless guys I've recruited, and maybe we didn't get them, but I am a big, big fan of recruiting guys from that part of the world [Canada]. I really want people to know that and to be looking out for us. We're gonna continue that pipeline here."

Coming into the 2022 season, the division I school in Clarksville, TN will be rostering two Ontario Blue Jays alumni in Jaden Brown, and Jacob Kush. 

Brown, a Mississauga, ON native and former Kentucky commit, announced he would be making the move over from UT-Arlington in early July. With the Blaze, Brown made 22 starts at DH, second base, and shortstop slashing.236/.258/.355. 

Kush followed suit announcing his transfer from the University of Missouri to join his fellow Canadian in his final year of college eligibility.

For the 23-year-old pitcher, the prospect of playing under a coach of Fanning’s caliber is an exciting opportunity. 

“He's definitely a very knowledgeable person. I know a lot of people that spoke very highly of him so, I'm taking their word for that,” said Kush. “From what I've seen so far from [Coach Fanning], it's nothing short of what they're saying. He's definitely an experienced baseball coach at many different levels so I think that his experience with other schools is definitely going to help us succeed this year.”

In his final year of eligibility, the Guelph-born righty looks forward to working his way into a starting role in Austin Peay’s rotation. 

Yet the question remains, what is it about the Canadians that continues to catch Fanning’s eye?

With the cold weather, and limited outdoor playing time, Fanning is of the mind that Canadians who can compete with players down south, have the potential to be something special with just a little extra sunshine and time to polish up their skills.

“[Canadians] have to be really tough mentally and physically, because of the challenges with weather, training indoors, limited training, and still having the ability to compete with guys that are in warm weather climates all the time. If you just give them a little time, these guys are really, really good."

Canadians aside, Fanning is humbly looking forward to his new opportunity with Austin Peay with hopes that his positive, high-energy approach will bring nothing but wins to a program with 15 Conference Championships and a tradition of success. 

“We're just kind of knocking the dust off of it and making sure everybody remembers what this place used to look like, what this place is about, and hopefully we move forward and put ourselves in position to add on to that legacy.”

“I don't plan on changing just because somebody tells me I'm the head coach,” concluded Fanning. “There's something that I'm in charge of now that is different from being an assistant, but I'm ready for those challenges. I'm ready for those conversations. I'm ready to compete in those areas. We recruited players to be the best versions of themselves and we're gonna put everybody in position to try to do that.”


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