Longtime Hazel Park CC coach plans to retire following season

By: Mark Vest | Madison - Park News | Published September 4, 2018

 Hazel Park High cross country coach Bill Boldt is pictured at a practice earlier this year. Boldt plans to retire following this season.

Hazel Park High cross country coach Bill Boldt is pictured at a practice earlier this year. Boldt plans to retire following this season.

Photo by Deb Jacques

During more than four decades with the Hazel Park school district, Bill Boldt has held various roles, including serving as a teacher and cross country coach. 

Some of his former math students may also remember him as “Algebra Man,” a character who would appear in the classroom donning a mask and cape while providing lessons to pupils.

In 2007, Boldt retired as a teacher and “Algebra Man” from Hazel Park High.

After approximately 19 years of leading the program, he has decided that this is the year for him to also retire as Hazel Park’s cross country coach, which he plans to do following this season.

“This is my 50th year of coaching cross country,” Boldt said. “It’s time for them to hear another voice. … It was just time. I’d say 50 years is a good run.”

Jenny Mullen is somebody who has interacted with Boldt on multiple levels.

While at Webb Junior High, when she was known as Jenny Jacobs, she ran for Boldt on the school’s cross country team, before going on to have him as a math teacher at Hazel Park High.

She was also an assistant coach on the cross country team and eventually became one of Boldt’s colleagues, as after graduating from Hazel Park in 1994, she also got a job teaching at the school in the math department.

As both a coach and a teacher, Mullen described Boldt as a “very good motivator.”

“You could tell that he loves math and that he loves running,” Mullen said. “It’s just very apparent.”

Mullen has also heard Boldt attempt to carry a tune. She recalled going to a local establishment and seeing Boldt there with members of his family.

“I used to karaoke at the Crash Landing, a local place, and I walked in and Mr. Boldt was there,” Mullen said. “After much coercion — or whatever, encouragement — I got to also karaoke with Mr. Boldt. … I got to be his student, I got to be his assistant, I got to be his colleague teaching, and I got to karaoke with him too.”

Although for some sports the primary way to determine success or a lack thereof comes from wins and losses, that isn’t the standard Boldt uses to measure how well his student-athletes are doing.

“We just emphasize, if you work and you do your best, regardless of what time you have or what place you have, you’re a winner,” Boldt said. “Everybody has different potentials, academically, with their natural intelligence, and then running, with running ability. But if you can reach your potential, whatever level that is, then you’re a winner. Hopefully, they get that satisfaction out of seeing themselves improve.”

Boldt is of the opinion that cross country relates to life perhaps more than any other sport. Although other sports may also require a lot of effort, he thinks there is something different about cross country.

“If you (want to) be successful, you have to work at it,” Boldt said. “Cross country’s (a) pretty good example for that. Where in basketball, and I coached that a lot, so much depends on your size, your jumping ability and different things. But running, (in) no other sport is conditioning that important. And that’s hard work. That relates to what you do later in life.”