Varsity Extra

Idaho’s top baseball program names its fourth head coach in the past year

Perennial Idaho high school baseball power Timberline enters the 2019 season with yet another new leader.

Five weeks before the first practice, the school announced it has hired Boise High assistant Casey Coberly to take over the program. It also revealed Todd Amundson as the Wolves’ new softball coach this spring.

Coberly’s hire marks the fourth head baseball coach in the past year for Timberline, the defending 5A state baseball champion. Coberly is the son of outgoing Boise School District Superintendent Don Coberly, who will retire at the end of the school year. But Timberline Athletic Director Tol Gropp said Coberly’s last name had nothing to do with the hire.

“Honestly, I think it might have hurt him more than help him,” Gropp said. “Not in any negative connotations toward our superintendent, but you’ve got to consider the perception that might come with this. It’s important for people to understand he was hired because he’s qualified, he’s going to work his butt off and he’s interested in making the program his own.”

Coberly, 28, inherits the state’s top baseball program. Since opening in 1998-99, the Wolves have qualified for the 5A state tournament 17 of the past 20 years, winning seven state championships.

“Hopefully I can help continue that tradition and create an atmosphere that players really enjoy, play hard in and continue to succeed in,” Coberly said. “I just want to build on the tradition Timberline already has.”

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Timberline’s baseball team piles onto the infield after beating Bonneville for the 5A state baseball championship last spring. Darin Oswald

Coberly graduated from Boise High in 2008 and was a first-team all-conference selection for the Braves’ state championship team that spring. He went on to play football and baseball at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. After graduating with a business degree in 2012, he returned to Boise High with the school’s baseball and American Legion program.

He served as the Braves’ head JV coach from 2013 to ‘15, then as an assistant varsity coach the past three years. He also previously served as the head coach of Boise’s Single-A and Double-A American Legion teams.

Coberly’s hire adds another chapter to a turbulent year for Timberline. The Boise School District suspended head coach Jeff Reifman on April 4 as it investigated the second-year coach. Three weeks later, Reifman resigned but told the Idaho Statesman the investigation found no wrongdoing. Pitching coach Caleb Mintz also resigned in protest of the investigation.

The school district declined to reveal what it investigated, saying it’s a personnel matter. The Wolves’ baseball team learned about Reifman’s resignation through the Statesman, setting off a silent protest on senior night later that week. But amidst all the drama, Timberline rebounded from a 5-8 start to win 14 of its last 16 games and another state title under interim coach Kirk Copeland.

Timberline made a splashy hire in June in Scott Scharton. Scharton served as an assistant for 21 years at California powerhouse Clovis High, which finished the 1997 and ‘98 seasons ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today. But Scharton said he discovered a cancerous growth on his neck in September that required six rounds of chemotherapy and 35 days of radiation. He stepped down before the new year, forcing Timberline to start its search over.

“For the level I’m used to doing, and the level of what I expect from myself, my staff and the kids, I don’t think it’s fair for them to hold on waiting for me,” Scharton said.

Coberly said he didn’t apply for the Wolves’ head coaching job last summer. He briefly discussed becoming an assistant at Timberline with Scharton before opting to stay with Boise. But when the job came open again earlier this month, Coberly said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Coberly said he aims to bring stability to the program that only had one coach, Larry Price, for its first 18 years.

“There are some things I have in mind,” Coberly said. “But first I want to evaluate Timberline, where it’s at and what it’s doing. I don’t want to change everything right away because I understand they’ve had a lot of success already, so they must be doing something right.”

Amundson takes over Timberline’s softball program after it went 17-12 last year but fell in the state play-in game to miss the state tournament for the sixth straight year.

Amundson has taught and coached in the Boise School District for 21 years. His previous experience includes assistant coaching positions with Boise High football, as well as Timberline’s football and boys basketball programs. He is currently the athletic director at Les Bois Junior High.