The game was not going well for Cardozo. With time running out and his team behind, the official made a call that incensed Clerk Basketball Coach Frank Bolden. That was the last straw. Bolden stood and screamed at the official and rolled a penny onto the floor. "That's what you're worth," yelled Bolden.
The players, shocked at their coach's unusual behavior, became inspired and went on to beat a good St. John's team.
"I remember the game well," recalled Bolden, who was considered one of the deans of the high school coaching circuit in the 1950s and '60s. "The ref was trying to take that game from my players. But, rolling that penny out there, that was totally out of character for me."
For 33 years, the tall, congenial D.C. native, known affectionately as the "Gray Fox" because of his silver-gray, hair, dedicated his life to teaching and coaching in the D.C. public schools. His basketball teams at Cardozo won five Interhigh titles and two city crowns. The first city title victory, in 1975 over Gonzaga, was the first Interhigh-parochial title game played after integration.
"I have fond memories of many moments in my years but that was one of the highlights," Bolden said. "I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and coaching. The youngsters, by and large, wanted to learn. If you were prepared, it was easy. Including my government time, I have 37 years of service and I think that's enough. I think it's best to go when you have all your faculties and not become a drag on people. This was as good a time as any."
So after 18 years of teaching physical education in Montgomery County and at Dunbar and Cardozo, a year as assistant principal and 14 years as the director of health, physical education and safety in the D.C. system, Bolden has called it quits.
"I've retired but I still plan to work with the coaches and the schools if I'm invited," said Bolden, a graduate of Dunbar and Wilberforce University. "Actually, I'm working harder than ever around the house. But I plan to do a few things. Like consultant work. I have a few things in mind."
Work has never bothered Bolden. It was not unusual for Bolden to call practice off early or to hop off the team bus following a game to hustle to another job. Coaches didn't received any extra money in those days and Bolden had a family to support.
"Sure, I drove a cab and waited tables and did a little catering," said Bolden. "Back then, you coached because you wanted to. Because you loved it. We didn't get a dime for coaching. I'm not comparing the coaches of then to the coaches of now. I think we have some fine coaches in the system. It's too bad we had to lose a few of them because of this money situation. Two of the best around were Bruce Williams (Ballou) and Mac BROWN mcKinley). Both of them were riffed. You don't find too many men like them. It really bothered me because I couldn't do a thing about it."
Never one to bite his tongue, Bolden wasn't the most popular man among the bureaucrats. Each time teacher or financial cutbacks were proposed, Bolden was right there fighting for his program. "It was easy to deal with the kids," Bolden. "Dealing with adults was a different thing altogether."
Bolden, who has received dozens of citations and awards for his accomplishments with community youth, cherishes most those honors given to him by his former students. An accomplished speaker with a marvelous sense of humor, Bolden often is called upon to speak at banquets and dinners.
In many of his talks, Bolden often refers to the "old pros" of coaching. Men like Charlie Baltimore (Armstrong), L.J. Williams (Dunbar), Dave Brown (Anacostia-Spingarn), Ted McIntyre (Armstrong), Sal Hall (Cardozo) and Jesse Chase (Dunbar).
"If you couldn't learn anything from them, you couldn't learn from anyone," Bolden said. "They knew more about coaching and strategies that anyone I have known."
Bolden, married with three children, said his teaching experiences can't be compared with anything else in his life.
"I had a real nice time; teaching and coaching gave me a lot," Bolden said.
"I just tried to give a little back."
Throughout the Washington area, there are hundreds of young men (this reporter included) who will unanimously agree that the "Gray Fox" gave more than just a little.