Boston College head coach Mike Gambino continued the Eagles’ summer-long recognitions on Thursday, receiving the ABCA Northeast Coach of the Year Award. The award qualifies him in an elite group for the national coach award handed out later today.
Gambino is one of eight national nominees to receive regional honors. He joins Mark Scalf (UNC-Wilmington, East); Gary Gilmore (Coastal Carolina, Atlantic); Kevin O’Sullivan (Florida, South); Greg Goff (Louisiana-Tech, South Central); Greg Lovelady (Wright State, Mideast); Josh Holliday (Oklahoma State, Midwest); and Jay Johnson (Arizona, West).
The Eagles enjoyed a renaissance in 2016 unlike anything they’ve ever experienced. They won 35 games, advancing to their first national tournament in seven years. In the tournament, BC went a perfect 3-0 to clinch their first regional championship since 1967. In the Super Regionals round against Miami, they pushed the Hurricanes to three bitterly-fought games, succumbing late in the deciding third game before experiencing elimination.
They won 11 games against teams ranked in the top 25, and they won a program-record six conference series. After opening the season with the program’s best start ever (8-0), the final win total wound up as their best season in 11 years. In addition, they developed a flair for drama, using the final weekend of the season to complete a comeback into the ACC Tournament and drawing one of the final brackets announced for the national stage.
Along the way, BC wrote one of the most famous chapters in the program’s history book. Justin Dunn became a household name in college baseball, vaulting onto the national stage before being selected in the first round by the New York Mets. Three other Eagles chosen in the top 20 rounds of the draft signed pro contracts, and pitching coach Jim Foster accepted an offer to become the head coach at Army West Point.
But it’s the Eagles’ ability to compartmentalize as a team that made them such a compelling story. Coach Gambino deflected winning the award personally, stating that it’s a great team award and a reflection of the work everyone put in on it. It reflects the family atmosphere recognized within the team’s Birdball moniker and nickname.
While Gambino now has a chance at the national award, he ranks among a tough field of competitors. Gary Gilmore’s Coastal Carolina Chanticleers won the national title yesterday over the Arizona Wildcats, while Florida was the overall #1 seed in the tournament.
The national award will be handed out later today.