If anyone is worthy of having his or her own statue on the campus of UVSC, it’s baseball coach Steve Gardner. After 18 seasons as the Wolverines skipper coach Gardner has decided to call it quits and ride off into the sunset of retirement.
Merely listing the accomplishments Gardner has achieved in his career as a coach wouldn’t do him justice. However, any story about Gardner wouldn’t be complete without a rundown of what made him a fantastic coach statistically.
As a player Gardner was named All-State at Spanish Fork High School, and received the same honor at Weber State. After his collegiate career, Gardner took a stab at playing professional baseball and spent four years in the Houston Astros minor league system. Gardner even won a batting title in the Western
Carolina League as a prospective major leaguer.
Gardner realized that playing in the minor leagues wasn’t exactly conducive to family life, and decided to hang up the cleats in exchange for a clipboard and become a coach.
Starting as a baseball coach at a junior high school, Gardner made stops at Bonneville High School and Snow College before becoming a Wolverine.
After 18 seasons and 471 wins, Gardner is calling it quits again to be able to spend more time with his family. With three SWAC Southern Division Championships and two Region 18 crowns, Gardner has put Utah Valley on the map as a baseball program no team can take lightly.
In a 2001 match up with 16th-ranked Arizona State, the Wolverines knocked off the Sun Devils of the Pac Ten. Since that landmark win under Gardner’s tutelage, Utah Valley has recorded wins over BYU, Utah, University of Washington, Oklahoma State and the two-time defending National Champion Oregon State Beavers.
While the accomplishments tell the story on the field, the love his players have for Gardner as a coach and mentor truly tells the story of how great a coach Gardner really is. In the veteran baseball coach’s final home game against BYU, an overwhelming number of Gardner’s former players and assistant coaches turned out to show their love and support.
Gardner enjoyed the moment, as his team defeated the Cougars in an 11-4 onslaught, and even jokingly admitted that he must be doing something right and should stick around for another year or two. However, Gardner finished his career as a Wolverine by taking two of three from the University of Hawaii, a fitting paradise to officially begin his retirement.