Kentucky baseball coach credits divine intervention for team's success


In the past month alone, Nick Mingione has witnessed personal and professional triumphs in his life and gives God all of the credit he has accomplished on both ends of the spectrum.

Prior to his team’s current run in the NCAA Tournament, the University of Kentucky baseball coach watched as his son (Reeves Mingione) was baptized. He invited the team to attend and they supported Reeves in his decision to follow Christ.

What followed was a three-game sweep of Western Michigan, Illinois and Indiana State in the Lexington Regional and two impressive wins over Oregon State to win the Super Regional and earn a first-ever berth in the College World Series.

“This has been the best two weeks of my life,” Mingione said. “I don't know how you can make it better.”

Neither can his wife Christen, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska, site of the College World Series. It will be a homecoming experience for Mingione's wife when the Wildcats play North Carolina State in the opening game of the double-elimination tournament at 1 p.m. Saturday in Omaha.

“The joke has always been to take her home,” he said. “She was born on the Air Force base there. I'm taking (her) home — taking (her) home.”

Although Mingione guided the Wildcats to the Super Regionals in his first season as coach of the Wildcats in 2017, the Wildcats failed to make the NCAA Tournament the following five seasons. The 2022 campaign was especially tough on Mingione with injuries and struggles on the field, but Christen supported her husband through it all.

“I had some long nights, and she was right there for me.” he recalled. “… ask this woman and she'll tell you. And I was beat down. I was a beat-down coach. And God taught me a valuable lesson. I did something that I've only done two other times in my life and I surrendered.

“I just finally said, Lord, I'm done. I'm done. I cannot do this on my own anymore. I'm hurting for those two boys. I'm hurting for our team. I just felt like, man, and I was trying to do it all by myself. And the Lord put it on my heart that I was not using my spiritual gifts that he's given me, and he basically — we have to make changes. I had to make changes.”

Those on- and off-the-field changes made a difference, and he handled everything on his knees.

“How did I handle it? Just through prayer,” he recalled. “I believe in the power of prayer. And three years ago, (former UK coach) Keith Madison challenged me — I'm so happy for coach (Keith) Madison, by the way, 25 years to this program. He's been leading our staff in a coaches' Bible study for eight years. Eight years. And three years ago he challenged me and the other coaches to find seven people to pray for you every day.”

Mingione accepted that challenge and found seven people to pray for him and his family. They also prayed for his baseball team and sent the coach messages of faith and inspiration. Prior to his team’s contest against Oregon State Sunday, Mingione sent out text messages to several of his supportive prayer warriors from a list he created at 5 a.m. that morning.

“I was like, all right, Lord, I'll give you the credit, all those people,” he recalled. “So when you ask, did I ever have any doubts, and there were doubts, but I just believe in the power of prayer. And to God be the glory, all those people did it.”


This story first appeared in Kentucky Today.