Thomas "Toe" Boyle is continuing a long family legacy at Saint Joseph's. (Photo courtesy SJU athletics)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
(Ed. Note: While head coaches get the headlines and assistant coaches do the bulk of the recruiting work, there’s more to a Division I basketball coaching staff. The Director of Basketball Operations, also known as the “DOBO,” is the main man behind the scenes, with tasks ranging from scheduling practices to coordinating travel and class schedules… and more. We spoke with all six of the city’s DOBOs to find out more about these key pieces to the local hoops programs, and get some inside dirt on the City 6. What you see below is a transcript of our conversations, edited for readability.)
When it comes to Saint Joseph’s men’s basketball, the Boyle connection runs deep. Jim Boyle both played for and coached the Hawks, but the family ties don’t stop there. Three of his four children went to St. Joe’s, including Jim Jr., who served as the Hawks’ mascot; Jim’s sister Tracie, another St. Joe’s grad, married SJU hooper Brian Daly, and their son Ryan just transferred onto the Hawks’ roster after starring for two years at Delaware. Jim’s son Thomas “Toe” Boyle -- whose other grandfather, Jim Lynam, also coached at St. Joe’s -- is a Hawk through-and-through as well, serving as a manager for three years before becoming a grad assistant and now recently-hired DOBO for longtime head coach Phil Martelli. Here’s his story...
CoBL: How’s your summer been?
TB: It’s pretty good, actually; we finished up all our camps we were running, our last one was the overnight team camp, so we just finished that up last weekend, I just got back from vacation, I was in Europe for about a week, week-and-a-half. Just got back, all of our players are gone, they finished up summer school so it’s kind of quiet around here now. They’ll come back in about two weeks when school starts, it’ll start ramping up.
CoBL: A lot of people in this area will see the last name Boyle and St. Joe’s and make the connection back to your grandfather. What was it like growing up in your family?
TB: Yeah, a lot of people pretty much make the connection right away, obviously my grandfather was a coach here, but a lot of people don’t know, when they see the name originally, that my other grandfather is Jim Lynam, so he was obviously a coach here and in the NBA. So it was pretty interesting growing up with both of them, basically basketball was all we did, it was all about sports. It was a great way to grow up. And then not only just those two, but my uncles all are coaches; Brian Daly is my uncle, Mike Doyle, he was an assistant here at St. Joe’s for a little bit, he’s at Penncrest now, he’s also my uncle. It’s just basketball pretty much everywhere in our family.
CoBL: At what age do you realize that this isn’t how everybody grows up?
TB: *Laughs* I think pretty much like middle-school area is when I started to realize, when my grandfather Jim Lynam was with the Sixers, so I was pretty much going to all of their games, going in the family room and seeing all the players’ families and seeing them after the games. Pretty much that’s when it hit me that this is a pretty unique experience, and not everyone gets to watch the games like I do.
CoBL: What is your earliest basketball memory? Or your earliest major basketball memory?
TB: The earliest memories I have are just playing in my driveway with my brothers, my cousins, and all of us would just, we had two baskets set up in the driveway, we’d play 2-on-2 and 3-on-3, we’d lower the basket as much as we could and try and dunk on each other all the time. That would be the earliest I remember, playing-wise. But watching games, the biggest memory I have is when St. Joe’s was in the Elite 8, and they were making that run with Jameer [Nelson] and Delonte [West], trying to get to the Final Four. I was actually out in Portland, this is when my grandfather was coaching with the Blazers, we were at a game, in the family room watching, me and my brother, just hoping they could pull it out because we were going to go to the Final Four if they won that game. But John Lucas hit that shot to beat St. Joe’s and Jameer fell just short on his jumper, so that was probably the memory I have the most of watching a game.
CoBL: Did you always love basketball? Did you ever question whether it was something you loved or if you were just forced into it?
TB: I always loved it, from the start, and I was never forced into it. With my parents, they let me do kind of whatever I wanted; I played golf, I played tennis, soccer, baseball, so it wasn’t like I was just playing basketball, I played all the other sports. And basketball was just the one that I ended up liking the most and fell in love with from an early age. And even the other sports, I still play golf all the time, still play tennis when I can, so it’s not like I’m only basketball, but basketball is just the one I gravitated to the most and just enjoyed more than all the other ones.
CoBL: As you mentioned, your two grandfathers were both incredibly successful coaches, your two uncles as well; this might be an unfair question, but is there any piece of basketball advice or life advice from any of them that stands out above the rest?
TB: Yeah, absolutely. It’s not even really basketball advice, but it’s advice that they’ve all given me or even just shown me, maybe not necessarily said it, but it’s just that basketball obviously is a big part of life, for all of us, but it’s not really what matters the most. In the end, family comes first; Coach Martelli always preaches that family is No. 1 on the list, school comes second and basketball is third. I’ve seen that with him, I’ve seen it with my family as well, even when we all get together we talk a lot of basketball but it’s not what matters the most, it’s the family coming together and being around each other and the love everyone has for each other. So that’s what I take from all of them, that they’ve shown me that I have to prioritize the things in my life, and basketball’s going to be close to the top but it can’t be number one.
CoBL: Where did you go to high school?
TB: I started out at Bonner, played two years at Bonner and then went to Carroll, for Coach Paul [Romanczuk], graduated in 2011 with Juan’ya [Green].
CoBL: Were you always destined to go to St. Joe’s?
TB: I actually didn’t go there freshman year, freshman year I went to West Chester. Obviously St. Joe’s was on my list, I applied, I got in, but I didn’t know if I wanted to go there and follow the family footsteps, I kind of wanted to do something on my own. So I went to West Chester, but I didn’t really like West Chester that much so after freshman year I decided, you know what, St. Joe’s is where I’m supposed to be, so I transferred here and loved it ever since I got here.
CoBL: Does the average St. Joe’s student, when you were there, did they make the Boyle connection?
TB: No, I would say most people did not make the connection. Obviously my grandfather’s, he’s gone now, but he was a lot older, so a lot of them I think didn’t make the connection. A couple did, my core group of friends, they all knew, but it wasn’t even something that they would recognize right away, it would take a little bit of time, and it wasn’t really something I was trying to put out there. If they happened to know it, they would know it, but I wasn’t going around telling everybody.
CoBL: What about any of the professors? Boyle is a fairly common name...
TB: Professors, for sure, a lot of them; if they followed basketball at all here, then they would make the connection. But there’s some professors that don’t really care about basketball or sports, so not all of them knew, but some of them, for sure, definitely made it early on -- maybe they weren’t sure, but they would ask if it was the St. Joe’s Boyles, and I would be like ‘yeah, it is.’
CoBL: Were you involved with the basketball team at West Chester at all?
TB: No, I didn’t get involved at West Chester. I thought about either trying to be a manager or maybe even trying to walk on there but I just kind of wanted to be a regular student for a year and see how it played out. But once I got to St. Joe’s, I became a manager for them, and did that for three years.
CoBL: I assume you had a prior relationship with Phil Martelli.
TB: Yeah, I’ve known coach for basically my whole life, so it was an easy transition. I just called him up, asked if I could help out, he said absolutely, he’d be glad to have me. I’ve known him for a long time, we have a great relationship.
CoBL: Does that relationship change when you go from, here’s a guy I’ve known mostly as a family friend my whole life, to now he’s my boss?
TB: Yeah, definitely a little different. It’s a different relationship, obviously, boss or friend, but he’s the same guy you see when you would just talk to him outside of basketball, he’s the same guy inside. I’ve been to practices before and been to games, so I knew what he was like already -- intense, but also he’s still making jokes, cracking the same jokes that he always would. And even with the assistants, I had known Coach Arnold, he was good friends with my father, so I’ve known him for a long time, but he’s a different character onces games and practices start. It was interesting to see the different guys and how they interact during practice and then outside of practice.
CoBL: You were studying sports marketing, you’re a manager on the team, were you thinking at that time that you were going to stay in this line of work? Or was it just something to do during undergrad?
TB: I always had the idea that I would try to get a grad assistant spot somewhere, I wanted to get my Masters and that was the easiest way to do it, in my opinion; they were going to pay for it, so if I could land one of those jobs, that would be the best possible scenario for me. And then, when I was a senior, one of my good friends from Carroll was the grad assistant here at St. Joe’s, John O’Brien, so he was kind of showing me what the job was like for a year, but when I graduated he still had the job for one more year, so I was looking at other places and then an opportunity with the A-10 popped up where they had an internship, open spot.
And I applied for that, and Jay DeFruscio, he was the one who was my boss, he hired me to do an internship for a year there; he’s at O’Hara now, as the president, but he helped me out a lot, he showed me the ropes at the A-10 and that was really a great experience, to show me a different side of it. I’d always been working with the team but now working with the conference, you see all the administrative work that goes into it. So that was a great experience, and after the year was up, the GA spot at St. Joe’s was open, and I called Coach Martelli and said I was interested in it and he said absolutely so it went from there.
CoBL: So what exactly were you doing with the A-10?
TB: They called it the men’s basketball intern, is really the position, so I worked directly with Jay, who was the head of men’s basketball, and what I was really doing was a lot of administrative stuff for him, a lot of it had to do with the A-10 tournament and having everything setup for that. So most of the work was towards that -- ticket sales, getting the teams all their information, with the players they were bringing, if they were bringing a band, cheer, all that stuff. Working with the venues, working with Jay and working with the teams, making sure everything was running smoothly for the tournament.
CoBL: So coming back to St. Joe’s, you were a grad assistant for two years but ended up being DOBO for most of that first year?
TB: Yeah, so [Rob Sullivan] was the ops guy, and he left sometime in December, I started Jan. 1 and kind of took over for the rest of the season. And even prior to that, we knew he was leaving, so he kind of stepped back a little bit, he wasn’t going on all of the trips. When we went to St. Thomas, I think that’s where we went that year, Sully didn’t go on that trip, that was in November, so I did his role for that trip, just to get used to what it was going to be like. And then officially in January, I took that over, just through the remainder of the season, until Phil [Martelli] Jr. came on.
CoBL: Having that in-season experience, has that been helpful at all this offseason as you do your first full planning for the season?
TB: It’s definitely been helpful but I've learned that it’s a completely different job in-season than it is out-of-season. In-season is basically making sure all the travel is running smoothly, the buses are getting there on time, the flights are organized, all the meals are set and all that. But when the offseason hits, it’s more getting the camps together, working on the schedule, working on setting up the travel -- when I was doing it in-season, the travel was already set, we had our flights booked already, all the buses booked. But out-of-season is when you have to do all that work. It’s stuff I haven’t done yet but it was definitely a help, and I still, I had lunch with Sully the other day and I can call Phil Jr., we’ve talked a couple times, so they’ve been a big help just showing me the ropes and walking me through some of the stuff.
CoBL: Phil’s been running his summer camps and events for a couple decades now; does that make it easier, or is it more pressure on you because of the standard?
TB: I think it’s definitely easier because he knows everything that’s happening; maybe I don’t know everything that’s going on, but if I have a question, I can go to him and he’s seen everything that could possibly happen or could possibly go wrong, he’s seen all of it. In the 20, 22 years, whatever it’s been that he’s been running the camps. So I think it’s a lot easier than it would be if I was just coming in cold and we were trying to start a camp for the first time. And because he has been running it, the teams that have been coming to team camp, they’ve been coming forever, they love the camp, they’re eager to come back, so it’s not like I’m really fishing to find teams and trying to pitch them a good camp. They’ve already been here, they know what it’s like, and they’re happy to come back and do it again.
CoBL: I know you’ve only gotten the job a few months ago, so I don’t want to ask you what’s next for you, but long-term, what is your dream job?
TB: I’ve been asked that a lot, and to be honest with you I don’t have an exact answer. I’ve thought, there’s two different ways it could go; one is you become an assistant coach from this spot, you bump up, you saw Phil Jr. did that...he was in this role and te next job is an assistant spot, and you’d hope at the end of the line that you could grab a head-coaching job, so that would be one line of it. And the other side is maybe I want to be more in the administrative side and end up in an athletic director’s role somewhere down the line, which would be the end goal of the administrative side. It’s a toss-up, I don’t really know which way I want to go yet...either one, they sound great, and I think I would go either way, and I’m still trying to decide which one.
CoBL: As you’ve gotten older and gone up the ladder, from manager to graduate assistant and now full-time on the staff, have your conversations with Phil, with your family members in the business, have they changed? Have you sensed -- not that they didn’t take it seriously beforehand -- but is there a different tone about it now that this is the present and reality for you?
TB: I would say I haven’t really talked to Coach Martelli about that, but with my uncles, yeah, I think especially my uncle Brian Daly, he was in the college world pretty recently when he was at Penn State, so I’ve picked his brain a little bit. I would say they definitely take it a little more seriously before -- like you said, not that they didn’t before, but it is my full-time job now, so it’s not like I’m just asking to ask, it’s a real question and it’s my career, so I think they do definitely take it a little bit more seriously. It’s definitely a help to have those two, my grandfather, Phil, even my aunt Dei [Lynam], she’s been in the sports business, my uncle ‘H,’ Jim Lynam Jr., he worked for the Wizards for a while, everybody’s been in sports in some form so there’s so many different people that I can pick their brains and ask questions, and they all are willing and eager to help me out, which is a big help.
CoBL: Speaking of family, your cousin Ryan Daly is now on the team at St. Joe’s, though he’s redshirting this season after transferring from Delaware. What’s it been like watching him grow up, move to Philly, and become the player he has been in college?
TB: It’s an awesome thing and I’m obviously proud of him, like we all are, that he’s here. Me and Ryan are good friends, I live right around the corner from the Daleys, we hang out all the time, we’re always at each other’s houses, their family is at our house all the time. We’re really close and I’m definitely looking forward to being around him on the team and seeing him practice; obviously this year he can’t play but next year, he’ll be able to St. Joe’s and suit up and play and I think it’s really cool for him to be able to put on the same uniform that his dad put on, that his grandfather put on and play for the Hawks just like they did.
CoBL: Have there been any jokes in the family, when you’re all together, like you’ll be checking in on Ryan in class?
TB: Oh for sure, his mom will say that all the time. He knows, he’s got to get the grades, especially this year, he’s got to keep it up when he’s not playing, so he’s ready to go next year. *laughs* It’ll be a lot tougher next year, this year he can’t travel so it’ll be easier school-wise, he’s not missing any class time. For sure, I’ll be on him. There’s been inside jokes, even with some of the staff around here -- if anything goes wrong with him, they’re coming to me first, and I’ll put him in line.
CoBL: You mentioned Ryan putting on the jersey like his father and grandfather did, and the meaning behind that, but what it’s like for you -- you grew up watching this program, knowing so many people who were part of St. Joe’s basketball, and now you’re on staff and part of the team, how does that feel for you?
TB: It feels, it’s an awesome feeling, it’s hard to describe. I walk in the offices and two of the pictures you see as you walk down the hallway are both of my grandfathers, because they have all the head coach pictures hanging up. So you see those two and it’s really a great feeling. And even, like, my dad, when he was the Hawk, when my grandfather was coaching, so it’s a long family tree of Boyle, Lynam, Daly, Doyle even, so it’s just keeping it going, and hopefully with Ryan and maybe even my sister -- she’s a senior at Carroll right now, so she’s making a college choice, maybe she’ll come here too -- it’s just keeping that line going and it’s a great feeling.