Glencoe, Sports

The New Naps: Dusty Napoleon — son of record-setting coach — takes over New Trier baseball

Dusty Napoleon’s high-school classmates called this one.

Napoleon, who was voted “Most Likely to Work at New Trier,” now is doing just that. The son of longtime Trevians baseball coach Mike Napoleon was recently confirmed as the successor to his dad, who retired this spring with an IHSA-record 1,000 career wins.

Dusty Napoleon joined the New Trier staff this spring after stints as an assistant at North Park College, the University of Western Illinois, Concordia University and, for eight seasons, at Northwestern University. His time with the Wildcats ended during the turbulent tenure of then-head coach Jim Foster, who was fired last year amid accusations of bullying.

“When he made that move out of Northwestern, I said, ‘You know, I’m going to be gone in a couple years. You might want to be thinking about something like this,'” Mike Napoleon said. “I said, ‘You’ve got a lot to offer in high school.’ We brought him aboard and he absolutely fell in love with it.”

Dusty can’t imagine being anywhere else now.

“I think everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I feel really good, just around the New Trier baseball community and family since it’s been in my family forever. Not … just the people in the building supporting me and my family — it’s the community. Growing up here, my wife’s from the area; it’s just really special.”

Dusty went through three rounds of interviews over two months before getting the job. He has quite an act to follow. Mike won 15 conference titles, 20 regionals, 10 sectionals, five state trophies and two state titles (2000, 2009) at New Trier during a 40-year head-coaching career that started at Notre Dame College Prep in 1985. He also won 139 games, two regionals and a sectional in five seasons at Providence Catholic High School before coming to Winnetka.

“There’s a little bit of pressure, but I think that’s a good thing,” Dusty said. “And that’s what I told the committee going through the interview process. I want it to be me; I don’t want it to be somebody else. That’s how much New Trier baseball and the school and the community means to me. … When you’re a coach at New Trier, there’s expectations to win. That’s what I want.”

Dusty Napoleon (left) coaching the Wilmette Waves summer team with his dad, Mike (center), and brother Dillon.

Mike’s advice to Dusty was to chart his own path, and he intends to do so. But there’s no reason for wholesale changes to a program that’s been among the state’s best for years.

One thing Dusty plans to keep is something most fans won’t see: “the way (Mike) practices.

“I saw firsthand this year. … He makes practices really challenging for the players. He said the practices are for the coaches and the games are for the players. I really liked that mentality.”

Dusty’s transition to head coach should be made easier with veteran assistants Scott Klipowicz and Pete Drevline staying on.

Klipowicz, who has been at New Trier for more than 20 years, coached Dusty and saw pretty quickly that he had the makeup to be a coach himself down the line.

“I could tell then what kind of leader he was,” Klipowicz said. “You didn’t have to tell him as much as some guys. He understood the game, being around his dad all the time.”

That partnership isn’t over yet.

“I will be around for sure,” Mike said. “It will be fun to be in the stands.”

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Mike Clark

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