The 2017 American Family Insurance ALL-USA Baseball Coach of the Year was chosen by USA TODAY Sports’ Jim Halley in consultation with high school coaches.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jordon Adell, Ballard (Louisville)
Name: Todd Boyer
School: Shawnee, Okla.
By the numbers: Led team to a 40-0 record, its third consecutive 5A state title and the No. 1 spot in the Super 25 baseball rankings. He has an overall record of 277-130 as a head coach. In 19 years as Shawnee’s head coach, he’s taken the Wolves to the state tournament 16 times.
Unusual skill: I can sing. Up until the ninth grade, I was in my school choir. It got to the point where I would have to be in the choir full-time or be in athletics and I chose athletics. I’m really good singing in the shower.
Best advice a coach gave me: Just to be honest with your players. Don’t tell them what they want to hear. If you are honest with your kids, they respect that and they just want to know where they stand.
Biggest accomplishment: For me, the greatest accomplishment is the lasting relationships I’ve been able to create with former ballplayers. I get the phone calls all the time from former players: ‘Hey coach, I graduated from college. I’ve gotten this job. I’m married. I’ve got children now.’ Those are the things, the relationships I’ve been able to build with former players. I’ve had three or four players who have been assistants for me who are assistants or head coaches in other programs now.
Biggest disappointments: There have been three or four other times we felt like we were the best team entering the playoffs and our state tournament and for whatever reason, we didn’t play well or had injuries. Those are disappointing for the kids.
Nickname: I have a lot you can’t print. I’m getting ready to be 50 here in January. The kids get a kick out of calling me ‘Old Man.’ They never used it in a derogatory manner. It was a joking thing.
Favorite pizza topping: I used to like pepperoni, but as you age, that pepperoni doesn’t settle now in the stomach so probably I’ll have to go with plain cheese because it doesn’t give me heartburn.
First car I ever drove: A Fiat. It was a second-hand car that my parents had. I was excited to get to drive. It was an older model, but it was still a sporty car to get to drive around in high school.
Favorite MLB players: I’m a big Cardinals fan. I didn’t get to watch him play a lot, but Stan Musial, I’ve gotten to watch him and how he carried himself. He always had a professionalism about him. I like Yadier Molina. He’s been a mainstay for the Cardinals for over 10 years. He shows up for every day to work. He doesn’t like to take days off.
Last game I was thrown out of: I can say as a head coach, I have never been ejected from a game. In my last game as an assistant, I was ejected. I was trying to protect our head coach from him getting thrown out. That had to be 18 years ago.
Mistake I learned from: I’ve made so many. Probably being too hard on my kids. Our expectations are so high and learning that kids are going to make mistakes and back off and not be so hard on them in the moment. That doesn’t do anybody any good. The kids already feel bad enough that they’ve made a mistake. They don’t need a coach getting on them in that moment. Save it for later and let’s visit after the game or the next day, why we made that mistake.
Favorite teacher and why: I didn’t have him in class. My high school baseball coach (Larry McVay at Blackwell, Okla.) had a huge influence on me. I was an ornery kid and he took me under his wing and made sure I was doing the right things. My high school football coach had a huge impact on me as well. With all the life lessons that football and Gary Higgins taught me, I’m very appreciative of him as well.
Phrase I always say: Play hard. That’s the one thing that we preach to our kids. If we are going to make a mistake, let’s make a mistake playing hard.
Toughest part about coaching: All the different backgrounds that your kids come from. We have kids who have very little and kids who are well off. It’s just getting all those guys on the same page, to pull for one common thing. We feel like we’ve been able to do that for a long time at Shawnee.