Be it baseball or softball, Anthony Boyle has been around the general game of bats and balls, hitting and pitching, his whole life.
So, it seems a natural fit that Boyle – son of Hobbs head baseball coach Marco Boyle and assistant of Hobbs head softball coach Dean Crossland for the past four years – is stepping into Hobbs’ softball head coaching job as Crossland retires.
Anthony Boyle hasn’t just grown up around the game, he has evolved in it. He evolved into a high school baseball player, from that into a college player, then into a strength and conditioning coach, and then into an assistant softball coach.
And now, Boyle has grown into a head softball coach for a 5A program.
“Oh man, it took a little while to kick in,” he said. “But once it got announced, it started to sink in for me and started to become a little bit surreal. I’m really excited.”
“He’s been around these kids, most of them, for four years now,” Crossland said. “So that’ll be real helpful. He’s not coming in cold; they all know him well, so that’ll be a nice transition.”
Boyle, of course, learned a lot of what will serve him well by paying attention to his father.
“My dad loves baseball so much,” Boyle said, “and I know that’s where I get my love of the sport and just being competitive – from him.”
And then there was his tutelage under Crossland, who coached the Lady Eagles for two decades and has given Boyle the chance to learn since 2019.
“Dean taught me a lot of the ins and outs of it,” Boyle said, “a lot of perspective, not only from the coach’s side, but a lot of how to deal with umpires, just the extra stuff that comes with being a head coach. He definitely gave me a lot of mentoring on what to expect, how to handle different situations. Any question that came to my mind it seemed like he had three or four answers for everything I asked him. I learned a lot from him, even aside from softball, but he’s been a very good mentor for that.”
A lot of what Boyle absorbed, though, was to his own credit. He made himself a human sponge, trying to draw whatever he could from his assistant coaching job, trying to take full advantage of every opportunity.
“Pretty much the last two years he started doing more and more,” Crossland said. “He started off being the person taking care of the practices physically, and this last year he actually planned the practices, got into the scheduling and stuff. So he’s not going into it without having some knowledge.
“Last year he started asking a lot of questions; this was the ’22 season,” Crossland added. “He wanted to do more things, was wanting to take an interest in learning to be the assistant coach. So I was thinking he was wanting to get the job when I left, and we pretty much knew this was going to be my last year, so he wanted to be prepared for it when the opportunity came.”
Boyle grew up in Hobbs and played third base for the Eagles baseball team. After graduating from Hobbs High School in 2011, his collegiate baseball and academic journeys took circuitous routes.
“It was kind of a winding road for me,” he said, telling of a nomadic path that led him to a yearlong redshirt JUCO stint in Vernon, Texas, then to a year and a half at Cochise College in Arizona, then on to Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colorado, before he returned home to Hobbs and finished his degree at University of the Southwest, while manning second base for the Mustangs baseball team.
And after all that, Boyle’s playing career was over.
“Playing the game when you’re in it, gosh, you do it so much and you’ve done it for so long, in college it almost starts to feel like a job,” Boyle said. “Once it all ended for me, that’s where my perspective kind of blew up. Gosh dang, this game is really so simple but you don’t always see it when you’re in the middle of it. Once it slows down and stops and you can look at it from an outside perspective, you’re like, ‘Gosh’. That’s the thing for me, how simple it is and how complex it is at the same time, if that makes sense.”
Boyle was hired to be a graduate strength and conditioning assistant by head coach Jessica Becker at USW, while earning his master’s degree there. His life may not have been nomadic anymore but it certainly remained hectic. Boyle earned money washing cars in the mornings, wrapping up around noon. He would then head over for his strength and conditioning gig at USW, usually putting in about seven hours, either from 1 to 8 p.m. or 3 to 10 p.m. It kept him hopping.
“But gosh dang,” he said, “I loved that, that was fun for me, I really enjoyed doing that. Day in, day out it was crazy, but that’s a character builder right there.”
Boyle completed his master’s degree in 2019 and began teaching history at Hobbs High. Coaching wasn’t necessarily in his plans.
“I didn’t know if I really wanted to go into it at first,” he said. “My dad was asking me if I was going to coach, and I was thinking hard about it. I would’ve loved to coach with my dad, but his crew that he had that’s been there for years, I didn’t want to feel like I was going in there and disrupting anything.”
But, Crossland had an opportunity to offer on his softball coaching staff.
“As soon as he let me know that they had openings, he was welcoming with open arms,” Boyle said.
Four years later, here Boyle is, ready to take on his first head coaching job. He says a lot about his philosophy comes from what he referenced about his car washing/strength conditioning days.
“The games of baseball and softball, the games themselves, are just games,” Boyle said. “But what it teaches a player, it reveals their character. A lot of adversity builds character – how you handle failure, that’s an aspect I would like to focus on. The game itself is going to teach you a lot about life; things are going to happen, and how you bounce back shows a lot about you.
“The focus I have is the mental aspect,” Boyle said, “but I’m also a real big stickler on the athletic training in the weight room, becoming a better athlete. If you don’t like working out and you do it, that’s going to show me your true sense of character. If you’re going to do something no one likes to do in the weight room, that’s where you’re going to build some character. That’s where I can attack the mentality of our program, to push them to not only get better but compete with each other, compete with themselves. That’s the biggest part of it, challenging themselves.”