Boise State has hired its first baseball coach in almost 40 years. They announced the hiring of Gary Van Tol as the head coach of the resurrected baseball program back in November. But who is he and why did Boise State select him to be its baseball coach?
Well, he has been involved with baseball in the Pacific Northwest, the Treasure Valley and even in the city of Boise for many years. So the name may sound familiar. He has extensive coaching experience in both the college and professional level. He also has strong connections to the community around Boise State.
Gary Van Tol is from Alberta, Canada. Not the expected origin of the coach of “America’s Pastime,” but he has proven successful through his baseball experience. He started his college playing career just down I-84 form Boise at Treasure Valley Community College (TVCC) in the spring of 1987. He earned a second team all conference selection in 1988, his final year at TVCC.
Then for the 1989 and 1990 seasons, Van Tol transferred to Gonzaga University, who was competing in the Pacific 10 Conference (Currently the Pac 12 Conference) at the time. In his senior year, 1990, he became Gonzaga Baseball’s first Academic All-American. He also earned first team All-Pac10 Conference honors his senior year. After Graduating, Van Tol played for team Canada in 1990 and 1991.
His performance with Team Canada earned him a contract with the Rotterdam Neptunus, a professional baseball team in the Netherlands. He was a part of the team of won a league championship and a European Cup Championship in 1993, ending his playing career on a high level.
Gary Van Tol’s coaching experience began while he was still playing ball. Starting in 1990 as an assistant at Treasure Valley Community College, playing for Team Canada after the college season was over.
He then moved on to be an assistant coach at Gonzaga University from 1991 to 1993, again playing for team Canada and professionally in the Netherlands after the college season finished. He took his first head coaching position the next year at Centralia College, a junior college about 90 miles south of Seattle, Washington.
After one season, he returned to TVCC as the associate head coach for one year, and got promoted to Head Coach the next year. During his 5 years as head coach, the TVCC Chuckars baseball team made 4 regional tournament appearances, competing for a national championship. From there, Van Tol continued to advance in his coaching career, becoming an assistant coach at the University of Portland, a Division 1 school, for 3 years.
While there he was the third base coach and pitching coach as well as the recruiting coordinator. Then he returned to Gonzaga as an assistant from 2005 to 2008 where he helped recruit multiple eventual Major League players.
Van Tol, then moved his career to the professional ranks. He spent the last 11 years in the Chicago Cubs organization coaching for their Short Season Single ‘A’ team. This included coaching for the Boise Hawks. He managed the Boise Hawks in 2013 and 2014, and followed the Cubs when they moved their team to Eugene, Oregon to manage there in 2015.
Then he declined an offer to move up to a Full Season Single ‘A’ team so he could stay close to his family, who live in the Treasure Valley. He continued to coach as an assistant for the Eugene Emeralds until 2017.
Now Gary Van Tol is hired on as the head baseball coach at Boise State University and is in the process of building the program from nonexistent to a division 1 baseball program. He is eager for the challenge, when asked what excites him most he says, “The chance to start a Division I program from scratch, in a community you call home, with people who share the same vision and the passionate support of Bronco Nation…(it) get’s me fired up!”
Boise State University is lucky to have gotten a coach with as extensive baseball knowledge as Gary Van Tol. He has recruited and coached top level baseball talent and could easily be coaching at an already established and successful college or even on an upper level professional team. In his own words, he chose to coach at Boise State because
“The opportunity to impact young people’s lives at a respected institution in a great community is pretty special.” Broncos fans should be just as excited to see what he can do.