Toby the Trainer


Here we sit just 17 days away from YOUR Boise Hawks Opening Day. A time when fans start to get curious as to who we will have on our roster, and a time that we have no certain answers. However, we can introduce you to the Hawks new trainer, James “Toby” Williams, or as we’ve adopted from Host Family Coordinator, Jeanette Kirkpatrick, “Toby the Trainer.”

Get to know a little about Toby with the first Run Down of the season below. 

Name: James “Toby” Williams

Birthdate: 10/25/1987

Hometown: Kennesaw, GA

College: Auburn University

CG: To get started, do you have a Twitter account that our fans can follow?

TW: Fortunately for everyone, I am not a tweeter.

CG: Did you always want to be a trainer or did you grow up with other dreams?

TW: My brother and I had a foolproof plan to play third base and shortstop together in the big leagues. Athletic training is really just a job to tide me over until he and I are given the opportunity to realize that dream.

CG: Why did you ultimately decide to be a trainer, what interests you in this field?

TW: I was heavily involved in different sports growing up, so the job has a natural appeal to me. Going into college I knew I wanted to get into something science/health related, but I didn’t want to be a doctor, I knew I didn’t want to work a traditional office job, and I wanted to do something I knew I would enjoy for a long time. Athletic training seemed to fit the bill at the time and I’m glad I got into it.

CG: What has your career looked like up until this point? Have you worked for other teams? … in college?

TW: I spent several years in school and doing different internships. I decided to get serious about a career in Minor League Baseball while I was working as a Graduate Assistant Athletic Trainer at Auburn University in 2012. I was fortunate enough to be hired as an Assistant Athletic Trainer with the Atlanta Braves after I finished at Auburn, which gave me the experience I needed to take a staff position here with the Cubs.

CG: Was this your first season at Spring Training? How was your experience?

TW: This was my first year at Spring Training with the Cubs, but not my first Spring Training. It’s always a little crazy in the Spring, but I always look forward to baseball starting back up. It’s also the only time our entire athletic training staff has a chance to work together out of the same facility with the same players, so we have a lot of fun.

Interesting Facts about Toby:

1) Most embarrassing song on his iPod: Nothing Compares 2U – Sinead O’Connor
2) Favorite movie line to quote: Pretty much anything from the movie Anchorman.
3) Hobbies: Keeping the team healthy is his main priority but when he gets the chance Toby loves hiking, fishing, music, and any sport with a ball.
4) Favorite quote: He has several favorites from multiple people that all boil down to one thing, be better today than you were yesterday.

We will dig a little deeper with Toby this season but hopefully this lets you into his world a little bit before meeting him at the ballpark! 



Jeff Samardzija: Road to Wrigley


With his father, Sam Samardzija, a semi-professional hockey player, and his brother, Sam Samardzija Jr., an All State football and baseball player, former Hawk, Jeff Samardzija, had some pretty big shoes to fill. Samardzija grew up in Valparaiso, Indiana where he would become a letterman in not one but three sports, football, basketball and baseball.

Samardzija started playing baseball at the ripe age of six when just about every American boy begins tee ball. Eventually, “It becomes what you do.” While playing multiple sports in high school, Samardzija accepted an athletic scholarship to Notre Dame where he played football from 2003-2006 and baseball from 2004 to 2006. He was recognized as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Magazine and continued to play at Notre Dame until he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 5th round of the 2006 Major League Baseball Draft.

Ultimately it was the rush he got from playing baseball that made his decision between the NFL and MLB. “I woke up in the morning excited to go to the park and work hard, I knew I’d have the commitment for baseball.” One thing that always kept him going was his older brother who he was always trying to keep up with. As Samardzija put it, “It kept me on my toes.”

Looking back over his years on the road to Wrigley, the best advice he has received is something we’ve all heard before, “Just go out and have fun and enjoy doing what you do.” For Samardzija the last two years have been pretty wild. “Where I was in 2010 to where I am now is a total 180.” He is just glad to see that his hard work has paid off!

A Little Extra …

Do you have a most memorable moment in sports?

“Your first time getting called up is always pretty sweet and your first strike out is always awesome too but you always remember those times when you were a little kid too. I remember being a little guy playing 12 year old All-Stars and hitting a homerun in the top of the 6th and then I came back and threw in the bottom of the 6th to win the game and pitched the six innings, so doing both of those was pretty cool I’ll never forget that.”

What do you remember most about Boise?

“Well Downtown apparently, I found myself down there a lot. The stadium was great, I loved living out in Boise, I loved the outdoor scene that’s out there. I’m a big fisherman and I enjoy going camping and everything, hiking, backpacking, I fit in pretty well out there and there’s a lot to do. I drove out there from Chicago to get ready for the season so I remember that 28 hour drive from Chicago to Boise and to be able to see the sites on the way in and really take it in was a great experience to be out there and it’s by far the best city, you know, there or Vancouver.”

What are your expectations for this season?

“As a team obviously you want to make the playoffs I think that every year you start out you want to get in either through the wildcard game or winning the division and making the playoffs but making the playoffs and playing in October is the most important thing. You know you want to win a World Series and you can’t do that without making the playoffs. That’s the number one plan for me. Personally it’s just to stay healthy and throw as many innings as I can for this team as a starter. It’s a big part of being one of those guys, If you’re one of the 5 guys who needs to do your part innings wise, pitch deep in the games and give your team a chance to win.”