By T. Scott Boatright
After coaching the Choudrant Aggies to a second straight Class B state baseball title to close out his career in the dugout last summer, Tony Antley figured his hardball accolades were about to come to an end.
And when he was officially inducted into the Louisiana Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Lake Charles last month, he figured that would be about it.
But just like the wins Antley amassed over his 33-year coaching the Choudrant baseball team, those accolades just keep on coming.
The latest came on Wednesday when Antley learned he has been selected as one of only eight finalists for the 2022 Baseball Coach of the Year Award from the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA).
Antley will attend the NHSCA Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska, from July 24-27, 2023, when and where the Coach of the Year will be named.
“It really is just as good being nominated whether it happens — whether I get it — or not,” Antley said. “I found out last summer that the (Louisiana High School Athletic Association) had nominated me as the state Coach of the Year through the national association to be their representative, but when they told me it would come from a small group of coaches from around the nation, I was just honored in that part that I was just recognized by our state and really didn’t think it would go any further than that.
“So when I got that information (Wednesday), I was just humbled, and a little floored, honestly, that I could even be considered with some of the top coaches in the country.”
A Choudrant legend with the high school’s baseball field named in his honor, Antley retired from coaching as six-time state champion after guiding Choudrant to Class B state titles in 1996, 2002, 2005, 2017, 2021 and 2022.
Antley won 679 games over his career and was also the three-time Class B state runner-up (2006, 2010, 2011). His resume also includes 23 district titles. He was also named district Coach of the Year 23 times and the state coach of the year five times.
After officially retiring from the CHS baseball program last summer, Antley didn’t serve his last day as the school’s principal until Feb. 3.
And after only two weeks, Antley said that being totally retired is still something he’s trying to get used to after only a couple of weeks.
“I’m still trying to get my feet on the ground with that bit,” Antley said. “It’s hard to just be ‘go, go, go’ and then all of a sudden realize that you don’t have to. I’ve had a lot of odds and ends jobs around home I’ve been trying to get done.
“But I’ve been able to enjoy some down time, too.”
Watching Choudrant sports teams will always be a part of Antley’s life and he’s said he looks forward to being able to do some with family as opposed to being out on the field with his players.
He was unable to be at the Ruston-Choudrant boys basketball game Thursday evening but said he does plan on going to the Aggies game against Simsboro on Saturday at West Ouachita with District 2-B bragging rights on the line after the teams closed out regular-season play tied atop the district.
“That’s the district championship at stake, so I am definitely going to go to that one.”