Boggess followed bouncing ball, not musical notes
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Harlandale, LaSalle.
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Like Robert Johnson, Charlie Boggess was a guitarist whose instrument led him to a crossroads.
The nature of that junction is where their tales deviate. Johnson, a founding father of the blues, sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi. For Boggess, the crossroads the former southsider reached in 1981 was metaphorical rather than a physical location.
Three years into what would become a legendary coaching career at Alamo Heights, Boggess’ band Horizon appeared to be on the verge of taking him in a much different direction. A scout from Geffen Records was a regular at the band’s shows and the offer of a recording contract seemed an increasingly tangible and tantalizing possibility.
“We played before 16,000 people at the HemisFair,” the current Antonian boys basketball coach said. “The local kids came out and kicked (the Commodores’) butts. We were getting played on radio here. This guy saw us play in a small club setting, at Sunken Gardens and at the Commodores’ concert.”
Horizon had positioned itself for impending fame by paying dues for several years. The band included of Boggess’ brothers John on keyboards and Geoff on drums (both of whom played basketball at McCollum and St. Mary’s University) along with vocalist Orlando Gonzales.
It had worked its way up the ladder to land gigs opening for Lionel Richie’s band and Kool and the Gang at the height of those R&B bands’ fame. Boggess, son of Harlandale Hall of Fame member Chuck Boggess, was ready for what seemingly lie ahead.
“I had just started at Alamo Heights,” Boggess said, “but if I had signed, I would have given it up.”
After many inquiries, Horizon learned that the scout had died – and not much else about the situation.
If that music offer had been extended, it would have deprived the San Antonio area of its most successful coach, in terms of career wins.
Boggess had won 884 games prior to the Prince of Peace Tournament in Carrollton, which began Dec. 29. The LaSalle High School grad is in his fourth year at Antonian after recording the majority of those victories over 29 seasons at Alamo Heights.
Twice he guided the Mules to the UIL state tournament. In his first season at Antonian in 2011-12, he coached the Apaches to the TAPPS state finals.
“Charlie’s laid back and a very knowledgeable person,” said Rudy Bernal, who joined Boggess’ staff at Antonian as an assistant this year after winning 567 games as Lanier’s coach.
“He’s definitely one of those Xs and Os guys, He knows what he’s doing. Charlie does a great job of motivating kids and getting them ready to play.”
The 65-year-old’s coaching career began in 1971 as a Harlandale assistant, when his father was the district superintendent. Chuck Boggess had been a drill instructor in the Army Air Corps, stationed at Randolph. He, too, started at Harlandale as the Indians’ head coach in 1947-48 and soon took on athletic director’s duties as well. After 12 years as coach, the patriach became Harlandale ISD’s first athletic director.
Boggess grew up in the heart of the southside, in a three-bedroom house at 154 Kendalia – between S. Flores St. and Pleasanton Ave. His heart never has really left.
“Every time I drive by over there,” Boggess said, “if I don’t have to be someplace, I’ll drive down Southcross and over by St. Leo. I still have an aunt who lives on South Flores.
“I was a part of that community, and your first home is where your home always is. I’m proud of being a southsider and I’m definitely proud of being a Harlandale Indian.”
Of course, he spent countless youthful hours watching his dad’s Harlandale teams play and absorbing lessons about implementing the day-to-day operations of a basketball program.
He and his father also had a hobby. Boggess earned his first $5 from his dad’s band, the Swinging Strings, playing standards like “Misty” and the Harlem Globetrotters anthem “Sweet Georgia Brown” as a 12-year-old.
Once dad set his guitar aside and the younger siblings grew up a bit, the sons began playing rock music. They soon graduated to a funk and blues mixture when Charlie was 25, John was 18 and Geoff 14.
By then, Charlie’s playing career was long over. A serious knee injury prevented him from playing after his days on the baseball and basketball teams at LaSalle – the only Catholic school on the south side when he graduated in 1967.
Boggess credits the abrupt end to his playing career for his hunger to coach, which he doesn’t anticipate being satiated any time soon.
“When I was a kid, I was driven by the dream and I was going to take it as far as I could,” Boggess said, referring to his playing career. “When I got that injury, I guess I didn’t get basketball out of my system, like John and Geoff did.”