Gary Van Tol
Cowlitz Black Bears bring in Gary Van Tol as new head coach (Katherine Jones/IDAHOSTATESMAN)

The year 2020 was supposed to be a year of celebration for the Cowlitz Black Bears. Why, might you ask? Before the 2020 season, head coach Grady Tweit announced that he would be stepping down after the collegiate summer league, wood bat, baseball team’s season.

Tweit was a baseball icon in the community and had some great relationships with the fans. So, 2020 was the year the Black Bears were going to be able to say “Thank You” and send Grady off with, possibly, a playoff push. Neither of this was able to happen with the cancellation of the season in 2020. Tweit finished his six years with the Black Bears with a record of 115-155.

With Covid canceling the season in 2020, the Black Bears’ front office had a little more time to make a decision. However, they did not have too much time to get the ball rolling on the 2021 season. The Black Bears announced the hire of Van Tol on October 19. As stated in the Black Bears’ press release, “Van Tol brings with him an incredible wealth of knowledge from both the professional and Division 1 Baseball ranks, as he mentors and guides Cowlitz County’s home-town Cowlitz Black Bears.”

In the West Coast League, high school and college players play for a chance to get drafted. Many notable West Coast League players have made their MLB debuts already: Adley Rutschman and Shane Bieber (a former Black Bear).

Here is a rundown of coach Van Tol’s past coaching experience

2017-2020 Head Coach-Boise State University

2008-2017 Minor League Coach/Manager Chicago Cubs — Short Season ‘A’ Northwest League (Boise Hawks/Eugene Emeralds)

2005-2008 Assistant Coach — Gonzaga University

2002-2005 Assistant Coach — University of Portland

1996-2001 Head Baseball Coach — Treasure Valley Community College

1995-1996 Associate Head Baseball Coach — Treasure Valley Community College

1994-1995 Head Baseball Coach — Centralia College

1991-1993 Assistant Baseball Coach — Gonzaga University

Based on his resume, Van Tol has had a lot of experience in the coaching world. He also played professionally for team Canada in the 1990 World Baseball Cup.


So, is this a good or bad move made by the Black Bears? Well, Van Tol has a lot of success under his belt, so this was the right decision by general manager Gus Farah. With Van Tol as the skipper, the Black Bears could finally get back to the West Coast League’s playoffs. 

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