Q&A: How former BYU and Utah Jazz player Andy Toolson is staying busy these days
Toolson is serving as a Latter-day Saint bishop, operating a business and rebounding shots for his basketball-playing sons
News of Quin Snyder stepping down as head coach of the Utah Jazz earlier this month didn’t really surprise former Jazz player and BYU basketball star Andy Toolson.
“It seemed like it had been brewing for a month or so, that there was some questions as to whether he would return or not,” Toolson said. “It takes a lot emotionally, and if it’s not the right situation, he must have felt that and felt it was time to move on.”
Toolson, who lives in Highland these days, still follows the Jazz and Brigham Young University basketball while carrying on with his business career and serving as a bishop for his congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“It’s busy,” he says, “I don’t have a lot of free time, but it’s good. I enjoy it and we feel blessed.”
Toolson is a partner in a retirement planning firm (www.mcpartland-toolson.com) and owner of a liquidation grocery and general merchandise business (www.andismarkets.com). His retirement planning firm has recently been offering people a complimentary book called “The Power of Zero” to help them get to a 0% tax bracket.
When he’s not at work or at the local Latter-day Saint meetinghouse, he enjoys spending time with family or rebounding basketballs as his sons practice shooting. He has one son, Drew Toolson, who will be a sophomore at Long Peak High next year and an older son, Tanner Toolson, who just returned from a mission in Jacksonville, Florida, and is committed to play for BYU.
The Deseret News recently caught up with the 56-year-old Toolson and discussed many of these topics.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Deseret News: How’s life going for you these days?
Andy Toolson: I feel fortunate. I loved my experience playing college basketball at BYU, I was fortunate to be with the Jazz for a couple of seasons and play (internationally) for 11 years. I feel good physically. We loved our experience and feel blessed.
DN: We talked about Quin Snyder leaving the Jazz after eight seasons. Who was the most influential coach in your career?
AT: It was probably my high school coach, John Astorquia.
He took me aside my sophomore year and said if you want to play college basketball, you need to stay in the gym, not play baseball and dedicate yourself to becoming a better player. He spent hundreds of hours individually with me working on technique and fundamentals, and I’ll always be grateful.
When I played in Europe, I offered to fly him over with his wife, but he didn’t accept. I really appreciated how much he cared. He had a great influence on me and my career.
DN: Your time with the Jazz was short, 1990-91 and 1995-96. What was your favorite memory of playing with the Jazz?
AT: My favorite memories were mostly just hanging out with the guys in the locker room, the road trips, the buses trips, the planes, the laughter and the friendships.
I was close with Mark Eaton up until he passed away last year. I stayed in touch with him a lot.
As far as the highlight of my basketball career with the Jazz, it was when we beat Detroit in Detroit my rookie year. I hit a shot in the last minute to help us go into overtime and we ended up winning. Detroit won the championship the year before. That’s was a game when I really started to believe I might be able to make it. I ended up going to Europe next year and nothing really came of it, but it was still fun. I got to start 15-17 games my rookie year because of injuries and that was one of those, it was fun.
DN: What do you remember most about the years you played internationally?
AT: Wow, there’s so many memories. I played for eight different teams in three different countries and had myriad experiences.
My favorite memory was winning the Copa del Rey — the King’s Cup — which is kind of a midseason tournament they have for the top eight teams in Spain. Our team was fortunate enough to win that one year, lost in the finals another year. It was weird, midseason, they had a ticker tape parade. We had 10,000 people outside our arena. It was weird because I knew we still had a game to play in three days. One of my teammates said, “Andy, we could lose every game the rest of the year and it would still be a great season.” It was weird.
We lived a couple of years north of Barcelona. We had a place near the beach and it was awesome. We loved our life in Spain and our experience over there. We had two kids born over there.
DN: You served a Spanish-speaking mission in Chile, but how was the language and cultural experience for your family?
AT: My wife learned to speak pretty good Spanish. Our kids went to private American schools because we didn’t know how long we would be over there, so they didn’t really learn a lot of Spanish. But we loved living over there, the culture and our friends.
DN: Your son Tanner just returned home from a mission and is preparing to play basketball at BYU. What advice will you give him?
AT: Just to compete each day the best you can and enjoy the journey. Enjoy each day because you never know how long it will last with injuries and so forth. Be grateful every day.
DN: When you look back on your playing experience at BYU, what does it mean to you now?
AT: It was great. I love the memories of playing at BYU and the friendships with many guys that I was able to play with. It was a wonderful experience. We still love BYU and what it represents. We’re hopeful that it will work out for our son Tanner.
DN: What is your other son, Conner Toolson, who played basketball at Utah Valley University, doing these days?
AT: He lives in American Fork. He’s working with me in insurance and retirement planning. He and his wife have two little boys.
He played in Spain last year and in Uruguay for three or four months of the season and was released. He figured it was time to move on.
DN: How has your experience with college and professional basketball helped you in the business world?
AT: It’s competitive. Just like in sports, there are days when you get beat up and you have to keep at it, keep a smile on your face and keep working. There are a lot of similarities and lessons that you can apply.
We’ve started this other business, we’re seven months into it and got a long way to go and hopefully it will work out. You work hard every day, just like you did playing basketball.