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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | CENTRAL: WESTMINSTER

Field Renamed to Honor Coach Boswell

October 03, 1998|HARRISON SHEPPARD

Words like "legend," "icon" and "mythical figure" don't get tossed around easily, especially for someone still very much among the living.

But those are the words being used in the halls of Westminster High School to describe Bill Boswell.

Coach Boswell, 63, spent nearly four decades mentoring the high school's young athletes, first as head football coach for 19 years and then as district athletic director. Many of his students went on to become coaches, citing his influence.

"At this school he's a legend," said Ted McMillen, current Westminster head coach, who played when Boswell ran the sophomore squad.

"We always knew about him," McMillen said. "The coach at the time would always bring up examples of his past glory days with Coach Boswell. He was seen as a mythical figure."

The storied coach's name will be immortalized, now that the stadium where he oversaw home games has been renamed William "Bill" Boswell Field.

Although the vote to change the field's name took place in the spring, Friday night's opening home game against Marina High School marked the official unveiling. A scoreboard bears the coach's name. A large cast-iron plaque with his likeness hangs near the ticket booth.

Boswell said he's honored, but that he shouldn't be singled out.

"There are a lot of ghosts, as far as the stadium is concerned--people who were there when things were happening," Boswell said. "My name may be on the scoreboard, but all those names belong on the scoreboard too."

Boswell, a lifelong Westminster resident, became head football coach in 1959, the year the school opened. He later became the school's, then the district's, athletic director and served a term as president of the California State Athletic Directors Assn. He retired as head coach in 1978 but stayed on as athletic director and teacher and later became coach of the sophomore team.

Though he retired in 1995, Boswell continues to teach the District Walk-On Coach Certification class. He stepped down in large part to spend more time with his family. Both sons, Dennis and Douglas, played for him in high school, and daughter Donna was a cheerleader. He and his wife, Jo, continue to work for the state athletic directors' association.

As head coach, Boswell compiled a record of 120-65-5, including five league championships, but it was his off-the-field presence and the respect from students that many call his most remarkable achievement.

"We call him the icon," said Anji Clemens, an assistant principal who has known Boswell for 28 years. "It's like, when Bill Boswell speaks, everyone listens."

Among the highlights of his career, Boswell recalls helping young men work through their problems.

"My greatest moments were the individual victories that I won with individual boys that made changes in their lives," he said. "I think winning is just part of athletics."

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