Niles program continually growing

There’s not much argument when the Niles Red Dragons baseball team considers themselves the best athletic program on campus.

They should. A litany of district appearances where nothing but hard luck befalls Niles at that level.

Despite those hiccups, this Red Dragons team never rebuilds. It always reloads.

Coach Mike Guarnieri said there’s an X-factor which helps make Niles so successful.

“I think more than anything, it the type of kid that comes into the program,” he said. “We have great kids that are passionate about the game and buy into what the program is trying to sell. Tough kids. It’s really nice to have people talk good about the program. More importantly than anything, is it’s player driven. It’s good families. It’s good kids that work hard. That’s the recipe of our success.”

He and his brother, T.C., have been coaching these Red Dragons for more than two decades.

One reason for their teams being so successful is the indoor facility next to Wilder Field.

The Red Dragons can get in some much-needed work in there and occasionally use the Niles Wellness Center.

That off-season work goes a long way to feeding the team’s success as Mike and T.C., and their staff coach Niles.

“TC is my best friend,” Mike said. “He’s not just my bigger brother, older brother. He’s my best friend. It’s funny. People see us coaching and we’re doing it for so long. They don’t see what goes on behind the doors and the battles him and I have.”

It’s a family atmosphere these Red Dragons embrace.

“In the end, for us, Dragon baseball is a family,” Mike said. “Everybody that’s part of our program, from boosters to players to coaches to families, we love everybody. It’s a family. That’s sort of been our success.”

As most successful programs go, the youth program is vital. Every year, the Red Dragons hold a youth baseball camp in the early part of June.

“After 24 years of coaching, really it’s so exciting to see these little guys get after it,” Guarnieri said. “It’s incumbent on our program to continue to get the youth involved, to be involved with their development. Always stay active with the younger group.”