With its maddening matrices and problematic polynomials,
ninth-grade algebra can be a mathematical minefield for
first-year students at Valley Christian High in San
Jose--especially when the most nervous freshman in class is the
teacher. "At first I had incredible insecurities and
self-doubts, but you can't let the kids know," says Bud Ogden,
who last fall added six classes of algebra to his previous
responsibilities as the school's boys' basketball coach.
"Although I think I've gotten their confidence, it was a leap of
faith for me."
Faith is why Ogden, 52, has chosen a new vocation at an age when
many of his contemporaries are contemplating early retirement.
After 22 years in commercial real estate, Ogden is a rookie
teacher. "I felt the Lord pulling me toward teaching," he says.
Thirty years ago Ogden was a divine 6'6" forward at Santa Clara.
Led by Bud--and younger brother Ralph--the Broncos opened the
season with 21 consecutive victories and would eventually play
mighty UCLA for a berth in the Final Four. The Ogdens played
with a grit developed over countless hours of competition on the
family driveway in San Jose. "Dad was merciless," he says. "He
would put us into the garage door."
Bud's father, Carlos, had shown his mettle in World War II,
entering as a private and returning as a major with a
Congressional Medal of Honor. Bud's toughness emerged in a
different arena. In 1966-67 he set the Santa Clara single-game
record with 55 points at Pepperdine. In '68 the 22-4 Broncos
lost to UCLA in the Western Regional final. Santa Clara headed
into a rematch with the Bruins in March '69 with a 27-1 record,
but toppling UCLA in Lew Alcindor's final game at Pauley
Pavilion proved too difficult. The Bruins won 90-52. "To be that
close to the Final Four--it was heartbreaking," says Ogden.
April 4, 1999
Selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the
1969 NBA draft, Ogden was given the nickname the Medium O by
teammates. (Oscar Robertson had dibs on the bigger moniker.) He
averaged 3.5 points over two seasons and then was waived. He now
lives in Santa Clara with his wife, Annie, and has two adult
children from a previous marriage.
Ogden expects his students, born around the time Alcindor was
winning his fourth NBA championship as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, will
have trouble processing his cover status of three decades ago.
"I can picture the kids saying, 'What? Mr. Ogden was on the
cover of SI?'" he says. "I can't wait to see the looks on their