Joel Antley: New head coach of powerhouse Aggies

Joel Antley, pictured getting a hug from his daughter, has taken over as head coach of the Choudrant Aggies baseball team. (Courtesy photo)

By T. Scott Boatright

Choudrant High School looked to a familiar and not unexpected name to replace the longtime head coach its baseball field is named for.

And that new head Aggie — Joel Antley — knows he’s got some pretty big shoes to fill.

Those shoes were worn by his cousin Tony, who recently retired after 32 years as head coach of the Choudrant High School baseball team after winning back-to-back Class B state championships.

The titles were the fifth and sixth for Tony Antley, who also guided the Aggies to state titles in 1996, 2002, 2005 and 2017.

Joel Antley is now head coach of the Aggies, following in the footsteps of his older cousin as he sometimes did when the pair was growing up in Downsville along with Tony’s brother Wayne, Choudrant’s softball coach.

“When Tony was a senior I was in middle school, so we never played team ball together or anything like that,” Joel Antley said. “I was a late bloomer and got better my junior and senior seasons in high school. but he and his brother were better players than I was.” 

Tony Antley said in late May that he felt his cousin was the likely choice for the role.

“Joel seems like the perfect choice to keep things moving forward,” Tony Antley said. “He’s a good man and a good coach, and he’s earned the right to take over and lead this team.”

Joel Antley will provide continuity, but so will his team as the Aggies lost only a pair of players to graduation and return for next season Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association All-State players in Landon Hennen, Bryce McGuire, Gavin Murphy, and LBCA Hitter of the Year Kaden Bradshaw, who have spent part of their early school break playing summer ball.

“We finished up today at a little tournament at Ouachita,” Joel Antley said. “We didn’t have all of our pitching — some of our players are gone right now. But it’s gone fine. They’ve done well this summer.”

Joel Antley said the fact the Aggies are coming off of back-to-back titles with three returning All-State players puts even a little more pressure on him.

“It puts me in an even tougher spot because of expectations while trying to fill Tony’s shoes and that kind of talent coming back,” Joel Antley said. “It’s tough to follow Tony with all the championships and runner-up appearances he coached in, but I think we’ll be all right.

“This team just loves the game and they’ll work as hard as they did last year, so hopefully they’ll make another run at it.”

Antley got his coaching start at Downsville High School.

“I did four years and then I went to Louisiana Tech,” he said. “Then I went back to Downsville and taught and coached with Larry Stegall for a couple of years. Then I did basketball alone before I did baseball alone one year there.”

At that point Antley decided a curveball was in order.

‘I got out of teaching and what not back in 2000 and did real estate with my dad for 11 years,” Antley said. “And then I came back to coaching and started helping Tony and was with him for 10 years.”

And now he takes over as head of Aggie hardball. But he said Aggie fans shouldn’t expect any big changes now that he’s moved into the head coaching role.

“Just weirdly enough, Tony and my mentality toward baseball and the team is the same,” Antley said. “We learned pretty quickly that I believe the same kind of things he did as a coach. It’s not like I’m going to make my team like his team. I would have made mine like that anyway as far as behavior, dress, looking professional and being good young men.

“It’s going to be the same mentality. I’m probably not as tough-nosed, but that’s because I haven’t had to be with Tony as head coach.”

Antley realizes he’ll still have to earn the right to fill his cousin’s shoes even though his years as a CHS assistant gives him a head start..

“He had been coaching there, and coaching successfully, for 22 years before I got there,” Antley said. “There’s not a lot of parent drama or things like that because that respect  is already there, and I’ll have that. Just not like he did.

“But I’m excited about the future and excited about the chance to see what I can do with it. I’m proud to have been a part of what we’ve accomplished and even prouder to keep helping move it forward.”



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