Al Cantwell, Special to The Press-Tribune
Trying to sum up 400 wins in one story about a man who has made an impact on so many could never be written by one person, especially when it is about “No. 4”, Airline Vikings head baseball coach Toby Todd.
So what better way to share No. 400 in a story by sharing the thoughts of those who made it all possible?
Airline gave Todd his 400th with an 11-5 victory over Southwood on Saturday.
Todd arrived on the campus of Airline in the fall of 1999 and served as an assistant coach under current Airline principal Jason Rowland before being named the head coach in the fall of 2000.
“400-wins — we are so proud for Coach Todd and all that he has accomplished,” Rowland said. “Eighteen years as our head coach and to reach this milestone of 400 wins is a testament to his dedication and desire to invest in our kids.
“Airline baseball has a long tradition of excellence and Coach Todd has had a major impact on our program, our school, and our community.”
To follow in the steps of a man with the character and passion for people as Rowland was no easy task, and it was one that could not be accomplished alone.
And no one has been beside Todd longer than his right-hand man Chase Cox, who has shared 12 years of memories between the lines as his assistant.
“We have been together 12 years now and he has taught me a lot about the game of baseball, but he has taught me more about what it takes to build this program,” Cox said. “He has known since day one that I have goals of being a head coach, so Toby has taken every opportunity he could take to teach me how to be a successful head coach one day.
“Toby is a family member. We have been through a lot of good times together, and a lot of tough times together, and I know he will always be there for me, and he knows I will always be there for him.”
While it may be too soon to decide who all belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Airline baseball, one who is definitely at the forefront of the discussion is Clay Bohanan.
Bohanan introduced the state of Louisiana to what Vikings baseball was all about in the early 1980s and 1990s and coached some of the biggest names to ever roam the halls of Airline. One of those was his son, Dustin Brandon, who had this to share about Coach Todd:
“Very well deserved congratulations to Coach Todd on his 400th victory. That is a testament to his leadership and the stability of the Airline Baseball Program.
“My dad, Clay Bohanan created the program in the 80s and early 90s that was well respected throughout the state and I am proud that Coach Todd has maintained that reputation. Coach Todd coached against us when I played at Airline in the 90s and I was very fortunate to be an assistant coach at Airline alongside Toby under Jason Rowland my first year out of college.
“I will forever cherish that my oldest son, Jonathan, spent as a baseball player under Coach Todd, and I look forward the next four years as my youngest son Clayton, will be a freshman next year. We welcome the challenge of chasing that elusive state title!”
Brandon’s comments were followed with these words from his son and 2017 Airline baseball star Jonathan Brandon:
“Growing up in an Airline baseball family, I’ve been around Coach Todd since I can remember. When I was six years old he brought me up to the press box and gave me an Airline beanie that I still have to this day.
“It might not seem like much, but as a boy, I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. From then on I couldn’t wait to play for Coach Todd.
“I’m thankful for the four years I spent under him as they made me the man I am today. I am proud of the fact that he has kept the winning tradition alive and I want to wish the best of luck to Coach in the remainder of his career as he hunts down the state title.”
Another mainstay at Coach Todd’s side who bleeds Viking blue is his 10-year assistant and friend Eric Flowers.
“I could not be happier for Toy to get his 400th win,” Flowers said. “I had the privilege of being his assistant for ten years at Airline. There isn’t a better man to work for. He has given the program so much here at Airline and in the community. Look at the facility during his time. His teams always play hard and compete. Congratulations Toby.”
When speaking of competing, one can’t help but think that Airline and Haughton has the longest standing competitive rivalry in Bossier Parish high School baseball.
Haughton head coach Glenn Maynor, who has amassed 500 wins in his career as the Buccaneers head coach, had this to say about his friend.
“I have been coaching against Toby for a long time now. Throughout the years his teams have always been prepared and played hard. I have a lot of respect for the program he has continued to build at my Alma Mater!”
Here is what some players had to say about their time with Todd.
Jared Bassett (Class of 2004): “Coach Todd has given his whole life to young student athletes and the game of baseball. I can’t think of many men I’d rather see accomplish such a feat. Not only does he train you mentally and physically to be your very best that you can be on the field, more importantly he prepares you for life and the success that goes with it! It shows a lot about his character that he keeps the relationships going with the vast majority of his players far past high school and create lifelong friendships. Congrats on #400 coach!”
Taylor Henry (Class of 2011): “Coach Todd is why “compete” and “work hard” was deeply ingrained into my character. He had a great impact on us that will help us with much more than baseball and I am very thankful for that.”
Kyle Backofen (Class of 2016): He took me under his wing and provided nothing but constant support throughout my career. He cares for his players so much and puts them in situations to be successful on the field and the rest of their lives. Congrats on 400 wins coach!”
Note: Al Cantwell is an assistant baseball coach at Airline.