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Baseball Alumni Return with Winning Message for MCCC Baseball Players

3/16/17


From left, baseball alumni Michael Procaccini, Randy Voorhees and Dan Klim, with current Head Coach Kevin Kerins.

Today's team leaders meet program alumni. Front row, from left, are co-captains Nick Dabrio, Anthony Peroni and Vinny Vaccone; back row, from left,are alumni Michael Procaccini, Randy Voorhees and Dan Klim, and Head Coach Kevin Kerins.


Mental preparation for the coming season begins on the first day of practice and continues at team-building events like the First Pitch Dinner.

West Windsor, N.J. -- “We dominate our region. We play on the national level and we win championships. We carry on the rich tradition of those who came before us.” That’s part of the mental drill for members of the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) baseball team from their first day of practice in the fall season.

Now that spring is just around the corner, that winning mantra has gotten a lot more real. The Vikings are currently ranked sixth in the country and, following spring break at the Cal Ripkin Experience in Myrtle Beach, SC, they will begin their regular season in earnest.

The team gathered at the MCCC Conference Center for the First Pitch Dinner in Feburary. Head Coach Kevin Kerins invited three distinguished baseball alumni back to campus to offer the Vikings advice and perspective as they start their season. Dan Klim and Michael Procaccini were both members of the MCCC squad that played for the JUCO World Series title in 1996, while Randy Voorhees played for the Vikings from 1979 to 1981; the 1981 squad also went to the World Series. He was Mercer’s pitching coach from 2000 to 2002 and head coach in 2003, taking his teams to the World Series in both 2000 and 2003.

Procaccini is a graduate of Princeton High School and was captain of the 1996 team. He finished his academic and athletic career at West Chester University, where he was named a scholar athlete both years. Procaccini has owned his own financial services firm for the past 13 years. He is actively involved in Mercer athletics, participating on the Athletic Scholarship Committee and assisting in building the Mercer Friends of Mercer Baseball alumni group.
   
Klim is the executive director of the American Physical Therapy Association of New Jersey (APTANJ), a professional organization representing more than 11,000 licensed physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in the state. His duties include working with state legislators and health care stakeholders to promote and advance the physical therapy profession. Klim is also a licensed property and casualty insurance producer with the N.J. Department of Banking and Insurance. He previously worked for a healthcare society in business development and event management worldwide, and worked in event management at Giants Stadium at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford from 1998 to 2010.

After earning his degree at Mercer, Klim received his B.A. from Rowan University and an M.S. in Management from Thomas Edison State University. Like Procaccini, he is active with the college’s Foundation and the growing Friends of Mercer Baseball alumni group..

After completing his degree at Mercer, Voorhees attended Penn State University, graduating with a B.A. in History in 1983. He has written or edited 10 books on coaching and baseball instruction, and has given more than 7,000 pitching lessons. Coach Kerins played for him when Voorhees was pitching coach. “We still use Randy's ‘blackout’ philosophy in our bullpen plans and pitch calling,” Kerins said. Current Assistant Coach Fred Carella coached with Voorhees in 2003.

In remarks Procaccini made to the group, he noted that it has been 21 years since he played Vikings baseball, but the lessons he learned at Mercer as an athlete and a student have lasted.

"I did everything I possibly could to play as long as I could, including coaching,” Procaccini said. “But I want you to think about your last pitch. You will all have one." He emphasized the need to develop plans for what comes next. “Start preparing for life. Start developing a track record for where you want to go.”

Procaccini said he worked just as hard in the classroom as he did on the field, and he counseled current players to invest in their academic success. “The rest of your life needs to happen too. And when you transfer to a four-year school, be confident, but not cocky. Everything you do today shapes who you will become.”

He encouraged players to remember their Mercer connections. “There will be a day when you may be able to use the network you are developing here and to use the alumni contacts you have made."

In recent years, the Vikings continue to live up to the program's storied histroy. Just since 2012, when Kerins became head coach, 50 players have gone on to NCAA schools (an average of eight per year), 30 have earned  All-Region honors, 24 have earned All-Conference honors, and four have been selected as All-Americans. Five have been Major League Baseball draftees (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and two were named National Player of the Year (2014 and 2016). Last year, the Vikings went 51-10 and advanced to the Junior College World Series with a no. 2 national ranking. Their overall record since 2012 is 190-60, a 76 percent winning average.

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