OPRF alum earns shot at shaping college baseball program

Bolden to take over as head coach at UW-Eau Claire

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Print

By James Kay

Sports Editor

For years, all Charles Bolden wanted was a chance to run his own baseball program.

After beating out 90 candidates for the head coaching vacancy at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the former OPRF baseball player is ready to seize the opportunity he has prepared his entire adult life for.

"This is a dream come true for me," said Bolden. "Eau-Claire has a rich history with baseball and being able to build my own program is something I have wanted for a long time. It's a rare opportunity and I am so grateful that the university chose me for this position."

Eau-Claire discontinued its baseball program in 1995 but decided to resurrect it this year to appeal to prospective students interested in baseball (the university is also adding women's lacrosse and men's soccer). According to Bolden, the athletic department was looking for someone to execute its four-year plan of creating a winning culture and effectively recruiting players around the Midwest.

This was the type of opportunity Bolden had been waiting in the wings for.

After playing two years of professional baseball, he wanted to get experience coaching at all levels. He created a travel baseball program called "Midwest Havoc" and coached high school players from OPRF, Lyons Township, Nazareth Academy, Riverside-Brookfield, Fenwick, and others from around the area. He also had coaching gigs at Illinois Tech and Chicago State University.

With his connections in the area and a hunger to build his own program, Bolden was the ideal candidate to take the job at Eau-Claire when it opened up.

"There was a set of criteria that we as a search committee tried to get to find the first coach since the reinstatement [of the program]," said Eau-Claire's athletic director, Daniel Schumacher, at the press conference introducing Bolden as head coach. "As a group, we talked about passion, the value of higher education, and the importance of recruiting great citizens of our community. After interviewing him on Skype and on-campus, Coach Bolden's enthusiasm was infectious."

That enthusiasm can be traced back to Bolden's time at OPRF where he played varsity baseball for two years before graduating in 2004. He routinely stayed after practice and worked with hitting coach Wayne Wente on his swing. He credits Wente for setting an example for him to be an extra-mile coach.

"I think we had 18 guys when I played who went on to play college baseball," said Bolden. "I was probably the player people expected the least to get to the next level. I knew I had to work outside of practice to get where I wanted to be. [Wente] didn't need to stay and put that extra work with kids, but he did."

Now that he has his opportunity, Bolden no longer has to work five jobs to pursue coaching on a full-time basis. Above all else, he wants to spread the message to younger people to go after their dreams unimpeded by the fear of not reaching their goals.

"I just want people to look at my story and see the value of hard work and grinding to achieve your dreams," said Bolden. "Looking back at my time in Oak Park, I am so appreciative of all the parents, teachers, and everyone who helped me to graduate from OPRF and get to where I am today. Everything I do now, I want to send the message to kids that they can do anything they set their minds to and learn from my underdog story."

Love the Journal?

Become our partner in independent community journalism

Thanks for turning to Wednesday Journal and OakPark.com. We love our thousands of digital-only readers. Now though we're asking you to partner up in paying for our reporters and photographers who report this news. It had to happen, right?

On the plus side, we're giving you a simple way, and a better reason, to join in. We're now a non-profit -- Growing Community Media -- so your donation is tax deductible. And signing up for a monthly donation, or making a one-time donation, is fast and easy.

No threats from us. The news will be here. No paywalls or article countdowns. We're counting on an exquisite mix of civic enlightenment and mild shaming. Sort of like public radio.

Claim your bragging rights. Become a digital member.

Donate Now

Reader Comments

1 Comment - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Kevin Anderson  

Posted: February 13th, 2020 7:19 AM

Best of luck to Coach Bolden! It certainly sounds like he has the temperament and skill to undertake this new program, even if it is in the snowy north. UW-Eau Claire is a D-III school, so no athletic scholarships are offered. However, they have a very good academic program there and I know he will find upper Midwest baseball players who will want to continue their educations and baseball careers with his program. Now, if the snow and cold would just go away!

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2019

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2019 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.


            
SubscribeClassified
MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad