Getting bounced in the first round of districts by the Chiles Timberwolves was not part of the plan for the Golden Eagles baseball team heading into the 2022 campaign. It was even more of a shock losing their head coach a few days following the end of the season. After a State Runner-up spot in 2021, it’s fair to say that there were high hopes for the baseball team and its leadership. Unfortunately, a disappointing 9-14 record in ’22, followed by the departure of coach Grant Biglin, does not have the returning players standing on solid ground to build upon moving into next year.…. Oh wait, hold that thought; Enter Coach Andy Toelken. A local kid from back in the day started his high school career in 2011 at FIHS and finished up at Clay (no booing). Following his graduation from Clay, he headed to St. Johns River State in Palatka. He soon moved into professional baseball, spending time with the Arizona Diamondbacks farm system through 2019. Unfortunately, like many players in the sports world, it all came to a sudden halt for Coach Toelken when Covid hit. Determined to stay involved with baseball and help make a difference for young players, he dusted himself off and headed back to St Johns River, where he became the Pitching Coach and an Assistant Coach.
Two weeks ago, Coach Toelken became the Head Coach at FIHS, and according to Toelken, “I am here because I always knew I wanted to take my experience and teach the players the right way to play the game. I’ll hold all players accountable on and off the field. We, as coaches, are here to teach them to be good players on the field and good men off the field. We will keep it real”. Coach Toelken realizes coming in following the sudden departure of a head coach is not easy to do, but the team and his staff will have expectations from day one. “We will focus on becoming the best team we can and look to getting into District play and realize that anything can happen once we get in. It’ll be up to us to take this as far as we can as a team”. The Juniors, especially the seniors on the team in 2023, need to buy in quickly to Coach Toelken. He’s a young coach not too far removed from being a player. The Golden Eagle players need to remember when spring ball starts; it’ll go by fast, so they better jump on board and sell out for themselves, each other, and their program. For some, it’ll be the last time.