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September 29, 2022 Believe. Achieve. Succeed

North High School alum finds sweet spot on the field, at home

Dan Tillo
North High School alum Dan Tillo has found success in professional baseball while maintaining a steady focus on family.

Sioux City, Iowa — Dan Tillo’s passion for sports started on the fields of Sioux City.

Currently a pitcher with the San Francisco Giants Triple-A team, the North High School alum grew up with a love for all sports. A three-sport athlete in high school, Tillo saw success in the classroom and in athletics at North High School.

“One of my fondest memories is simply how many amazing teachers I had growing up. When you spend just as much time at school as you do at home during the school year, having great teachers, who are also great human beings that help shape the human being you may become one day, is super important,” says Tillo.

North High School math teacher Michelle Rustwick was one of those teachers adds Tillo.

“She was a great teacher, and I always looked forward to her class. She cared about every single student she had – the nicest person anyone could meet,” says Tillo. “When my friends and I graduated from high school, we all got teary-eyed saying goodbye to our favorite teacher, Mrs. Rustwick.”

Outside of class, Tillo excelled in athletics. He was part of the 2014 basketball team that won a state game for the first time in 30 years at North High School. One of his favorite high school highlights was hitting a walk off homerun off of rival East High School.

Post-graduation, Tillo played baseball for the University of Kentucky from 2015-2016, before transferring to Iowa Western Community College in 2016 to play baseball and pursue a degree in special education. In 2017, Tillo received a life-changing call from the Kansas City Royals.

“Getting that phone call at my house surrounded by my family and friends during the MLB draft was a surreal feeling and something I won’t ever forget,” recalls Tillo, who played for the Royals’ organization from 2017 through 2022.

In 2020, Tillo fought back after Tommy John surgery sidelined him for the entire season. The situation taught him the importance of a solid support system and prepared him for more curveballs. After signing with the San Francisco Giants in the spring of 2022, Tillo suffered a slight tear in his teres major muscle, causing him to miss most of this past season.

“Having a good support system always keeps me motivated. There have been times when I have been down on myself and having my parents and girlfriend always there for me is what keeps me going,” says Tillo.

Playing baseball full-time has meant sacrifices for Tillo,  such as time away from his family, including his parents, Vince and Susan, and brothers Mike, Nick, and Alex. Susan, Mike, and Nick all work in the Sioux City Community School District today. When he’s not on the field, he looks forward to spending time with loved ones back home in Sioux City.

After his baseball career ends, Tillo says he would like to teach and coach in the Sioux City Community School District one day.

“My education in Sioux City Community Schools taught me to work hard to where you want to go, whether it’s in class or on the field,” says Tillo. “Wherever you go in life, hard work will get you there. Nothing is ever handed to you. You have to go out and get whatever you want in order to accomplish your dreams.”