Sports Person of the Week
Merullo Excited for First Year in the Guilford Dugout
Nick Merullo, a former baseball player and assistant coach at Hand, was recently named the head coach of the baseball squad at Guilford High School. (Photo courtesy of Nick Merullo )
Nick Merullo was destined to play and coach the sport of baseball from the day he was born. Now, Nick is beginning a new chapter in his life as head coach of the baseball team at Guilford High School.
Nick is a Madison native who played baseball at Daniel Hand High School before graduating in 2010. After spending five years as an assistant coach with the Hand baseball team, Nick was recently named the new head coach at Guilford.
Nick’s father Matt Merullo played six professional Major League Baseball seasons as a catcher from 1989 to 1995. Nick was raised in the baseball family as a youngster, and the sport has remained a constant in his life ever since.
“Baseball has always been a part of my life. I was literally born into the game,” Nick says. “My father was playing for the Chicago White Sox at the time, and now we’ve had four-consecutive generations play [professionally] at some level.”
Nick was a catcher for the Hand baseball team and went on to earn a scholarship to play college ball at James Madison University in Virginia. Nick eventually played minor league baseball for the Gulf Coast Orioles, a single-A affiliate for the Baltimore Orioles.
“Getting to the Gulf Coast Orioles was a journey in itself. There were a lot of games that I wasn’t playing at all, so I got to see all spectrums of the sport,” says Nick, who teaches 5th grade at Brown Intermediate School in Madison. “I always knew I was going to be a coach at some point, and I was lucky enough after finishing my playing career to get the assistant coaching job at Daniel Hand alongside Travis LaPointe.”
Nick worked with Head Coach Travis LaPointe for the past five seasons at Hand prior to getting hired as the skipper at Guilford. LaPointe considered Nick a tremendous asset to the Tigers, and he sees his former assistant coach leading Guilford to plenty of wins in the future.
“Nick is going to do an incredible job. He is knowledgeable in all areas of the game and understands how to help players be better on and off the field,” says LaPointe. “Over the past five years, Nick has been instrumental to our growth and success as a program. It is bittersweet to see him leave, and we are all going to miss him, but we are so happy and proud of him. We teach 5th grade at the same school, so we are going to still have a close friendship, and it will be so much fun to share experiences and scouting reports with each other.”
Nick knows that his experience coaching alongside LaPointe will prove invaluable as he begins his journey with the Grizzlies. The new coach is excited to see Guilford take on the Tigers as part of the teams’ SCC rivalry.
“He’s an example of a coach who’s in it for the right reasons. He let me have my own sort of voice and opinions when I was an assistant with him,” Nick says of LaPointe. “He always let me be heard and he is always looking for new ideas. He gave me a greater appreciation for the game, and he’s always going to be someone I look up to.”
Nick is getting ready to work with Guilford’s players as the 2021 season draws closer. Nick hasn’t met any of the athletes in person yet, but he’s looking forward to building strong bonds on the squad.
“I want to be able to form good relationships with these guys,” says Nick. “It’s the players that win games. The batter’s box can be a lonely place at times, and hitting a baseball is the hardest thing in the world. One thing I’ll never lose sight of as a head coach is how difficult the game is. I’ve always fancied myself to be a player’s coach, and I want to leave a lasting impression on my players.”
Nick has big expectations for what Guilford can achieve this spring. Nick knows that the Grizzlies are itching to get back on the field after the 2020 season was canceled because of COVID-19.
“It’s an interesting year for everyone,” Nick says. “A lot of the guys that are seniors this year missed all of last season due to the COVID pandemic. I’m going to expose these guys to a high level of baseball, and I expect them all to work hard on and off the baseball field. Guilford has always had a lot of talent, so I think we’re going to slowly get better each day.”