FCA is proud to honor University of Kentucky head baseball coach Nick Mingione with this year’s Jerry Kindall Character in Coaching Award.
FCA presents the Kindall Award each year at the ABCA Convention to the college or high school baseball coach who best exemplifies the Christian principles of character, integrity, excellence, teamwork and service.
“Fellowship of Christian Athletes has honored an incredible coach who has impacted numerous players over his successful career,” said FCA President and CEO Shane Williamson. “We congratulate Nick Mingione for not only his coaching accomplishments, but also for the way he has touched the lives of countless young athletes and impacted them for the Kingdom of God.”
In his rookie season as a head coach in 2016, Mingione proved a quick study as the 2017 Wildcats etched their name all over the school’s record books. The program made a trip to the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals for the first time and finished ranked in the Top 10 of every major college baseball poll.
The Cats’ 43 wins were just two shy of the school record and the most for a first-year coach in the program’s history. The 19 wins in Southeastern Conference play were the second-most in school history, just one shy of the 2006 championship team’s 20, which Mingione also was a part of as an assistant coach.
The success has carried over to the Major League Baseball Draft, where Mingione and his staff’s ability to groom players for a professional career has led to 27 players being selected in the past five MLB Drafts. The 21 players selected in the 2017 and 2018 drafts were the most of any program in the country and Mingione has helped mentor two top 20 overall picks in first baseman Evan White (17th, 2017) and left-handed pitcher Zack Thompson (19th, 2019).
When brought on as head coach, Mingione was an immediate hit with fans and community leaders. He made it a point to have his team involved in the community, part of his “Student. Person. Player.” guiding principle of the program, participating in numerous philanthropic events in Lexington while also taking time for more than 100 local speaking engagements.
In his first season at University of Kentucky his attitude towards the program was on full display as UK players earned SEC Pitcher of the Year, SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year and SEC Community Service Team honors.
His impact on Kentucky culminated in being named a Kentucky Colonel on Oct. 23, 2017. The designation is the highest honor a civilian can receive in Kentucky.
Mingione—born in Tarrytown, N.Y., before growing up in Florida—graduated from Embry-Riddle in 2000 with a degree in aerospace studies, as well as a triple minor in business, psychology and humanities. He was also a four-year letterman on the school’s baseball team.
Away from coaching, Mingione travels often for both speaking engagements and mission trips. In 2013, he joined a group of former baseball players to help build houses and run baseball clinics for youth on the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. When he returned stateside, he was inducted into the “Be The Best You Are” Baseball Clinic Speaker Hall of Fame. Other past inductees include Ted Williams (2002), Ron Polk (2003), Leo Mazzone (2006) and Cohen (2008).
Mingione and wife Christen have one son, Reeves.
The award’s namesake, Jerry Kindall, passed away on Christmas Eve 2017. The legendary coach and baseball standout was well-known and respected among his peers and those he coached over the years. He was the first person in NCAA history to win a baseball national championship as both a player and a coach. In addition to his three titles at the University of Arizona as a coach, Kindall played shortstop for the 1956 National Champion University of Minnesota team.
Signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1956, Kindall went on to play eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins. Following his professional career, Kindall became the University of Arizona Wildcats head skipper from 1973-1996. He was Arizona’s all-time leader in career wins, finishing his coaching career with a record of 860-580-6. Kindall was a member of both the University of Minnesota and University of Arizona Halls of Fame and was the recipient of the ABCA’s Prestigious Lefty Gomez Award in 1999 as well as a three-time national ABCA Coach of the Year.
Past Kindall Award recipients include Gary Gilmore (Costal Carolina University - 2021), Brent Lavoie (Long Beach Poly - 2020), Jason Marshall (UTSA - 2019), Lynn Carlson (Greenville - 2018), Rich Maloney (Ball State - 2017), Dan McDonnell (Louisville - 2016), Brian Shoop (UAB - 2015), Ray Hughes (2014), Rusty Stroupe (2013), Scott Berry (2012), Victor “Bubba” Cates (2011), Dave Altopp (2010), Carroll Land (2009), Elliot Johnson (2008), Mark Johnson (2007) and Jerry Kindall (2006).
Photos courtesy of Ron Frank and University of Kentucky Athletics