This Canton firefighter just retired to take a vital role with the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Free Press

Canton firefighter Maureen Stoecklein has switched gear from public safety to professional sports as the Detroit Tigers nutrition coordinator.

She was invited to become a crucial member of the professional baseball team’s support network in late 2021 and officially retired from firefighting duties this summer to focus on the Tigers’ fuel from food.

Baseball followers will tell you the Tigers could be playing better on the field. Off the field, Stoecklein is working with a team of chefs and dieticians to make sure they’re eating and enjoying the right combination of foods throughout the day.

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“First of all, I am honored to be working for the hometown team. That is like the coolest thing, because I grew up watching the Tigers (and) going to Tiger Stadium for games,” she told Hometown Life in June, during one of her last shifts as a Canton Township firefighter. “The Tigers are really going places with nutrition.

“We’re really growing a cool department. Our culinary and nutrition department is combining and doing some really fun, cool and great things. I’m just really excited to be working with like-minded people that are on the same page as me as far as providing really great tasting food that’s going to help them perform at their best.”

Stoecklein, 48, has loved athletics, being a part of a team and helping others for most of her life. She grew up in Livonia, attended Mercy High School in Farmington Hills and played softball and volleyball for Madonna University.

She received a degree to become a registered dietitian nutritionist and was able to work in that field for a few years. She became a Canton firefighter in 2000 because she missed physical work and being part of a team.

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She remained athletic and focused on nutrition, eventually juggling her firefighting duties with dietitian work for Mike Barwis, who owns a performance center in Plymouth and has some serious connections in the professional sports world.

She met and married another Canton firefighter while working for the township. Married for almost a decade, they live in Livonia.

“Maureen has served our community with hard work and dedication for 22-years,” Fire Services Director Christopher Stoecklein said when announcing her retirement. “She has set our department on a new path that promotes firefighter wellness — a component of the fire service that had been overlooked in the past but has since been proven to be beneficial to the employees as well as to the community we serve..

“I am especially proud to also call this kind-hearted, and professional retiree my wife.”

MLB players, firefighters both need balanced, nutritious meals

Throughout her years with the department, Maureen “Mo” Stoecklein remained athletic and nutrition focused. Besides working at Barwis, she started helping other firefighters and police officers become more fit.

Challenges for the first responders include stress on the job and never knowing when they’ll have to be in peak condition during their shifts.

“It might be in the middle of the night. It might be right before you go home,” she said. “I feel like your body has to be in a constant state of readiness.

“You can’t arrive dehydrated, under fueled, under rested. All those things have to at least be a part of your lifestyle in order to be at your best, to serve your community as best you can. Athletes are taught that. Police officers and firefighters maybe aren’t instilled with that as much.”

Then Barwis, the New York Mets’ senior advisor of strength and conditioning and Detroit Red Wings’ sports science and human performance director, shared some news. The Mets were looking for a registered dietitian.

Stoecklein worked with the team from 2017 to 2020 before taking a break. She was focused on teaching wellness and nutrition to first responders when the Tigers called.

Now in her first full baseball season, Stoecklein shared that the Tigers enjoy a post-batting practice meal – otherwise known as a pre-game meal – about two hours before game time. This is a light meal perhaps including chicken breast or wrap sandwiches.

“We always have plenty of healthy snacks around, too,” Stoecklein said. “A lot of them just eat a peanut butter and jelly. Toasted peanut butter and jelly is really popular.

“They also have a post-game meal within minutes of coming off the field. Sometimes, that’s at 11 o’clock at night. That’s still an important meal for them to have to recover to be able to do the same thing over the next day.”

She wants the Latin American players to still enjoy familiar dishes and to present fun foods like hamburgers, chicken fingers and sweets in a healthier way.

“It’s challenging, but it’s really a cool challenge to have,” she said.

For those hooked on improving themselves, Stoecklein advises small, mindful lifestyle changes that can be done with others, like decreasing sugar intake from beverages.

She’s not so big on using the word “diet” or counting protein grams. She does like fruit, hard-boiled eggs, trail mix, seeds, nuts and cheese sticks for healthy snack options. She’s a fan of the RX and Kize bars.

The Tigers registered dietitian recommends protein shakes and apple sauce packets and fruit chews for carbohydrates sources that provide sustained energy.

Stoecklein shared some more advice for first responders and others who test their physical fitness at extreme levels.

“Recovery nutrition is a big piece that gets kind of neglected when you’re in a position of public safety,” Stoecklein said. “When you get back from a fire (or) back from a big event, are you resupplying your body with what it needs?

“That’s where a lot of fruits and vegetables – that colorful stuff – comes in because that has a lot of those micronutrients that we need for recovery along with making sure you have some protein.”

Contact reporter Susan Vela at or 248-303-8432. Follow her on Twitter @susanvela.

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