Mingione looks to continue family atmosphere, success at UK

Nick Mingione is the UK Head Baseball Coach. Photo by Britney Howard

Anthony Crawford

It’s truly something special when witnessing firsthand the family atmosphere throughout UK Athletics while under Athletic Director Mitchell Barnhart.

That atmosphere was more prevalent than ever at the introductory press conference for new UK baseball head coach Nick Mingione Tuesday evening.

Mingione returns to Lexington after being assistant coach under John Cohen at UK from 2006-07 and followed him to Mississippi State in the same position from 2009-16.

The time apart from the program offered Mingione a chance to grow as a coach and tack on some accolades but as Barnhart noted at the beginning of the press conference, UK always had high hopes for what part Mingione would play in the program.

“We knew from the time that Nick was with us that one day he would be in this spot.  The hardest thing for someone that’s getting older like me is to think of people differently, whether it’s my own children or people that have been at our staff from 10, 12 years ago,” Barnhart said. “Sometimes I think of them as they came into our program.  They go away from you for a period of time.  You have to think, ‘What has a decade done to them?’  Then you begin to look at their résumé, what they’ve accomplished, the success they’ve had.”

Now as Mingione assumes the position in the program Barnhart envisioned for him he takes up the difficult task of trying to find success in the toughest baseball conference. From his years at UK and Mississippi State, Mingione has seen what it takes to win even going as far as to say he wouldn’t have taken the job if he didn’t think he could win here.

Mingione wants a family atmosphere to surround the baseball team, but with that comes expectations. Coming from a poor family growing up, Mingione was not shy about sharing how hard he had to work to get to where he is now.

While at Mississippi State Cohen always admired Mingione lack of “bad days.” He said that stemmed from simply replacing bad thought with good ones, and then went on to say that he wants his players to follow that mindset.

“We’re going to grow, learn and improve from it,” Mingione said. “There will be no bad days tolerated in our program.”

Along with no bad days, Mingione also has goals in mind for the team GPA and for there to be a winning culture with Omaha always in mind.

To reach those goals recruiting will obviously be a big part of what Mingione does here, and he plans to start close to home with an inside-out approach.

“We’re going to start in Lexington and we’re going to recruit out.  This program and this city has amazing baseball players,” Mingione said. “We will not fill our team with a group of guys just from Lexington, but you have to start in Lexington.”

With Mingione hoping to take UK to new heights, plans about the new facilities to help UK close the gap between other SEC schools were also touched on during the press conference by Barnhart.

After starting by saying that $4 million has already been invested in designs to show that the university is fully committed, Barnhart touched on more specifics for the facilities. The new $45 million stadium will be in a whole other location from the previous one, moving to Alumni Drive across from the soccer stadium where the practice fields are.

The plans capped off an exciting day for the program but also look to play a big part in the future along with the new coaching hire. Family will be an emphasis as long as Barnhart is at UK, but the arrival of Mingione will hopefully be another reminder of the success that follows that approach.