The Barone Bunch: How four brothers all ended up with MSU men's soccer
The Brady Bunch lived in a four bedroom, two bathroom house in Los Angeles for five seasons in the early 1970s.
While the Barone family may not have seven fictional children and a major television network to show the ins-and-outs of their entire life, they do have four children that have all made it to one place: MSU soccer.
Mark, Domenic, Hunter and Giuseppe Barone have all gone, or are going through, the MSU men’s soccer program.
Head coach Damon Rensing has coached all four brothers, starting with twins Mark and Domenic back in 2008 when Rensing was just an assistant coach to then 32 year head coach of the MSU men’s soccer program, Joe Baum.
Rensing not only coached all four of them, but recruited all four of them as well.
Rensing said when him and Baum looked at the Barone twins, Mark and Domenic, they saw something in both that would make them assets to the Spartan program.
“We both realized that these guys were very passionate about soccer and they had a talent to score goals and win games,” Rensing said.
Rensing said when he recruited Giuseppe and Hunter, it was mostly based on their talent. However having two previous brothers did help speed up the recruiting process.
“I think what helped in the process is that Hunter and Giuseppe knew what we were about,” Rensing said.
Rensing said by talking to Domenic and Mark, Giuseppe and Hunter knew what MSU soccer was all about under his tutelage.
“They knew about the family atmosphere, they knew they could come to Michigan State and play in a very competitive environment, they knew what I was like as a coach, both my strengths and weaknesses,” Rensing said. “They were more prepared to kind of come in and deal with it.”
Giuseppe said coming to all of Mark and Domenic’s games growing up made choosing MSU a lot easier.
“We knew what it was like, the atmosphere … winning at Michigan,” Giuseppe said. “That’s why you come to a school like this.”
However, Hunter said growing up, he and Giuseppe didn’t necessarily want to be a part of the Spartan program like Mark and Domenic.
“Everyone would always compare us to (Mark and Domenic) when we were younger,” Hunter said. “If we saw anybody in the soccer community, they would be like, ‘Oh, are you going to be better than your brothers?’”
Hunter said that all changed when him and Giuseppe started to get older.
“We realized how much we loved the school, how cool it would be for our whole family to go there and it’s so close to home and everything,” Hunter said. “We kind of just fell in love with it once we got older.”
Rensing said the Barone family is close, which makes for some competitiveness both between the brothers off the field and with other teams on the field.
And their personalities on and off the field is what separates them.
“A lot of guys tell me I’m the laid back one,” Giuseppe said. “(Hunter) is more protective of me on the field and stuff like that, which I respect him a lot for.”
Hunter said protecting Giuseppe, or any teammate for that matter, is something that’s just part of his more emotional nature.
“The fact that Giuseppe is my little brother and he’s the youngest one out of all of us, I’ve always felt protective over him,” Hunter said. “Obviously I know he can hold his own, but I don’t feel like I need to, but it’s kind of like an instinct.”
Rensing said Giuseppe and Hunter are mirror images of Mark and Domenic, in the terms of Hunter and Giuseppe being the more “even keeled ones” and Domenic and Hunter are a little more “passionate” per say.
Hunter admittedly said he “100 percent” agrees with Rensing’s assessment of the similarities between the four brothers.
“I think we’re all pretty emotional people, especially on the soccer field, but I think Mark and Giuseppe do a better job of not showing it, where me and Domenic have a hard time not showing (emotion),” Hunter said. “I think we’re all pretty even, but I think me and Domenic show it more.”
But even with the similarities between the pairs of brothers, Rensing said they’re all their own unique person.
“That’s what I kind of enjoyed is that each one of them is a little bit different and I enjoyed working with each one of them in a different capacity,” Rensing said.
But even with their differences and admiration for each other, the Barone brothers are prone to doing things typical brothers will do.
“We have our fair share of fighting just like every other brothers do, but we’re pretty good about it off the field,” Giuseppe said.
Hunter said him and Giuseppe “obviously fight all the time” and that they’re “personalities clash,” just like brothers usually do.
But this doesn’t come between the bond not only Hunter has with all of his brothers, but the bond he has with Giuseppe.
“Me and (Giuseppe) have always been best friends,” Hunter said. “With my older brothers being twins, they were always kind of together, and me and Giuseppe we’re only almost only two years apart, so it’s kind like me and him are basically twins.”
Giuseppe said it also means a lot to the entire Barone family, especially since they only live about an hour away in Grandville, Michigan and support the two brothers whenever they can.
“That’s really what pushed us to stay close to home and to be at a great school like Michigan State,” Giuseppe said.
This bond and all playing in the MSU soccer program is not only brings the four brothers together, but what brings the whole family together.
“We’re a very family orientated family,” Hunter said.
Being family oriented not only brings the Barone's together, but also brings the entire team together through their love for one another.
“We see their passion for each other and then they bring it on the field and that helps us stay passionate,” defensemen Jimmy Fiscus said. “I like having them both on our team and they’ve been a big factor for us.”