How I see it

Alex Leon

It always happens this time of the year. With March Madness in full

swing and college basketball fans from across the country in a state of

ecstasy, some people can not resist asking the same questions over and

over.

But Carl Boldt is only too happy to offer his opinion, a firm

handshake and a nod of his head. For 11 months and several days out of

the year, he is just a 67-year-old businessman quietly living in Arcadia.

On those few days when it matters most to college basketball fans and

the 64-team NCAA men's basketball tournament has been pared down into

it's final-four match-ups like it is for this weekend, Boldt answers the

same questions over and over.

Yes, the 1956 University of San Francisco Dons was one of the greatest

teams ever. Yes, it was a great experience to play on an undefeated NCAA

Championship team that year. Yes, USF center and NBA legend Bill Russell

was one of the greatest players ever, in his opinion.

Boldt, a former player at Verdugo Hills High and Glendale College as

well as the head coach at St. Francis High, was a starting forward on the

1955-56 Dons team that went undefeated at 29-0 to win the NCAA title. He

also played on the 1956-57 team that advanced to the final four and was

22-6.

"This time of the year rolls around and inevitably, a lot of questions

from the media come my way about the USF teams and what I think about the

game today," Boldt said. "I'm proud of what those teams accomplished and

what I was able to contribute as a starting forward.

"Some guy even remarked that Michael Jordan and I each scored 16

points when our teams won the championship and I had to laugh. I may have

got 16 but I wouldn't be talking to anyone if we didn't have Bill Russell

playing center and K.C. Jones playing guard for us." Visiting Boldt at

his Arcadia home is not like taking a trip down memory lane. Framed

photographs don't line the walls and there is not a basketball in sight.

Any trophy he won over the years or ring or watch that he was presented

with has long been given away.

What does remain is the man himself, a 6-foot-5 inch man with a shock

of gray hair and a story for everything he has done in his life.

He grew up an orphan and landed in Tujunga with a foster family as a

12-year-old. He said he was a better player at Sunland Park then he was

at Verdugo Hills, because he only played one year for the Dons, as a

junior. He was ineligible for his senior year because he had played on an

AAU team.

Boldt credits the two years he played at Glendale College from 1951 to

1953 for head coach Abe Elliot as being pivotal in his life. He was an

All-American for the Vaqueros as a sophomore and ranks No. 11 all-time in

scoring with 1,024 points in 63 games for 16.3 points a game.

"For a lot of kids like me who didn't have families, playing at

Glendale College gave us the only family atmosphere we had at the time,"

he said. "Playing at Glendale also taught me the fundamentals that served

me well as a player and later as a coach."

After a spending a year in the Army where his basketball team competed

against some of the best teams in the nation including USF, Boldt decided

to play for the Dons when he was discharged and the rest, including a

60-game winning streak, is college basketball history.

He even has a few stories dating back to being drafted by the Detroit

Pistons after college and working as a scout and assistant coach for the

old Los Angeles Stars of the ABA in the 1970s.

But nothing he has done in his life compares to the years he spent at

USF and what the Dons achieved. He has worked in the coffee industry for

the last 17 years out of Costa Rica but anywhere he is introduced it is

as Carl Boldt, former USF basketball player.

That will likely be the case this weekend in Minneapolis, MN. when he

makes his first trip back to the NCAA finals since the season of 1957.

Because no matter how many times the same questions are asked over and

over, Carl Boldt loves this time of the year.

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