From Baseball to Backstreet Boys

Tim Coons ’76 had dreams of playing in the major leagues, but scored big in the music business as a singer and award-winning producer.

Tim Coons (third from left) and Far Young (Photo courtesy of Tim Coons) Tim Coons (third from left) and Far Young (Photo courtesy of Tim Coons) Tim Coons ’76 arrived at Rollins College with one goal: Find a way to get on the baseball team, even without a scholarship.

Of course, he had no idea that he’d wind up touring Europe as a musician, help produce songs for the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, and garner two Grammy nominations. He lived for his big-league dreams.

Today he still loves baseball and rarely misses a chance to play in the annual Rollins alumni game. But he keeps his professional focus on his Winter Park-based music production and artist development company Atlantic Hill Music, where he’s currently promoting a new boy band called Far Young.

This comes years after working with two of the world’s most famous boy bands, and Coons wanting to try his hand at forming a group from scratch. He picked three talented singers, who he says have the ability “to bring emotions out of their fans just by singing.” Their style touches on rhythm and blues, hip-hop, and pop.

Far Young has been together for only about four months, but the group has drawn more than 10 million impressions on social media, played at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, and performed at Playlist Live Orlando, which drew more than 35,000 spectators.

Coons, who enjoys putting his four decades of experience to work for Far Young, has had a varied and impressive career. On his website, he has recommendations and fond remembrances from members of the Backstreet Boys and singer-actress JoJo. The website also mentions working with many artists, including Starship, Stephen Stills, Glenn Frey, Arlo Guthrie, Gary U.S. Bonds, Mary Wells, Ramsey Lewis, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac, and the Bangles.

Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough, Tim Coons, and Nick Carter backstage at a recent concert a few years ago. (Photo courtesy of Tim Coons) Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough, Tim Coons, and Nick Carter backstage at a recent concert a few years ago. (Photo courtesy of Tim Coons) For his work with the Backstreet Boys, Coons was awarded a gold and diamond album, the latter recognizing selling more than 10 million units.

Hitting the Base Paths

Growing up in Queens, New York, Coons’ boyhood dreams involved the World Series, not the Grammys.

He was a standout player in high school, and when his family moved to Florida, he wanted to keep chasing his goal. The chance to go to Rollins and play for then-coach Boyd Coffie ’59 ’64MAT seemed like a steppingstone to the major leagues.

Before becoming Rollins’ baseball coach, Coffie had played in the minor leagues for the New York Yankees organization and then served as a coach and scout for several major league teams. But there was just one problem: Coffie never recruited Coons; he never even heard of him. However, the legendary coach agreed to let him try out and then invited him to join the team as a walk-on.

Coons did pretty well for the Tars and earned the nickname “Arms and Legs” for the way he pumped his limbs. He also gained a reputation as the fastest player on the team. But one day, Coffie took him aside and delivered a blunt diagnosis.

He told me, ‘You’re 5-foot-8, 140 pounds; you’ll never make it to the pros. You need to think about other options.’

Coons knew he was getting a dose of reality to prevent devastation later. “When Boyd told me that, I felt crushed. But it made me focus on other things that I could accomplish.”

Making Music, Touring Europe

In addition to his interests in political science and environmental studies, Coons played guitar and sang. After winning the college freshman talent show, he started jamming informally with a couple of other students.

They formed a group called Harpoon, gaining enough success to draw an offer to tour Yugoslavia one summer. As Coons grew serious about pursuing new dreams, he added business and music classes to his course work to understand the entertainment industry.

By 1977, he signed what became a five-year deal with the prestigious BMG label Ariola Records in Germany and toured throughout Europe as a singer and performer. Eventually, he got homesick, returning to America in the 1980s to continue an award-winning music career.

He had started on the baseball diamond hoping to break records but wound up in the music studio making diamond records. That unforeseen journey gives him a rare perspective that he shares as an occasional guest speaker.

“Think about your options and your long-term goals,” Coons says. “My goal was my first record deal, and when I signed, I felt depressed. Where was the fame and fortune that was supposed to be delivered at my doorstep? I learned you still have to work on nurturing a career. So don’t make your goal to start; make your goal to finish.”

So then, what was one of his proudest recent moments? It came during a Rollins alumni baseball game. “At 59, I got a hit off of a college pitcher and knocked in the tying run.”

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