Father of one and coach of over a decade's worth of Baldwin athletes, Anthony Bolden, 40, passed away on Sept. 7th due to complications with pulmonary fibrosis. He developed this condition in May after being treated with chemotherapy for testicular cancer that was diagnosed in January 2021. He was fighting for his life in the hospital in need of a lung transplant since May and despite these challenges, he stayed strong until the very end.
Although Bolden has passed on, he leaves behind a lasting legacy of putting hard-work, perseverance and love in everything he did in life. He will be forever missed by the Baldwin High School community who consider him family.
Born on May 18, 1981 in Lynchburg, Virginia, Anthony Bolden’s family worked in the military, causing him to move around several times when he was young. Prior to moving to Baldwin, Bolden lived in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and then in Germany. At the age of 15, the Bolden family moved to the Freeport/Baldwin area where Anthony stayed for his high school years.
Upon moving to Long Island, Bolden was enrolled in Baldwin High School where he quickly became a star football player for the school as well as played for the varsity basketball team. He played throughout his four years at the school and was a valuable prospect for recruitment in the college football scene, receiving multiple scholarships to power 5 schools. However, during one of the last games in his senior year at Baldwin High School, he severely injured his knee after which the colleges rescinded their scholarships offers.
After graduating from Baldwin High School in 2000, Bolden attended Nassau community college where he also played football after he received surgery on his knee. Bolden did not let his injury discourage him.
Spending two years at Nassau community college and on their team, Bolden was again a favorable prospect in the college football scene. He accepted a football scholarship at Temple University in Philadelphia where he received a Bachelor of Science in Information Management and Technology upon graduating in 2005.
From college, Bolden was recruited into the semi-professional football league where he played for several years in the Arena 2 league on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Las Vegas, then the Tulsa Talons in Oklahoma. Even while playing on these teams, Bolden was always a Baldwin resident; he would spend his off season living in Baldwin and only move out to his team’s location when the season was starting.
Anthony was highly regarded for his strength and versatility as a player. Ordinarily, Bolden played on the offensive and defensive lines for his team but frequently, he was also put in as a tight end and scored several touchdowns for his teams over the years.
Bolden began coaching in Baldwin in 2010 during the off seasons in his semi-professional football career. Ten years after his graduation, Bolden was back at Baldwin High and coaching for the girls’ basketball team.
He was accompanied by his best friends Ed Ramirez, Athletic Director at Baldwin High, and Tom Catapano, Head coach of the girls’ basketball team. The three of them were fun-loving and were not afraid to take it out in the form of pranks against one another.
Ramirez recalls a prank he and Bolden pulled on Catapano, who sometimes left his things around the locker room. Bolden and Ramirez felt that it would be funny to take some of Catapano’s things that were laying around the locker room at the beginning of the semester without saying anything. These items included a nice watch and pair of shoes along with a couple other articles of clothing.
According to Ramirez, Catapano eventually chalked these things up to missing. When Bolden and Ramirez gave him a Christmas gift at the end of that semester, he was surprised to find his gift contained all the items that had gone “missing” at the beginning of the semester.
A few years into coaching, Bolden retired from football and was coaching at Nassau community college for their football team, where he helped lead them to a championship.
In 2014, Anthony and his partner Cristina Medina gave birth to their son Anthony Eric Jr. Bolden. From then on, Bolden could always be found with his son by his side. Anthony was widely regarded as a great father and role model to his son. Soft spoken, dedicated, humble, selfless, genuine, loving, easy going and “salt of the earth” are qualities many of the people in his life use to describe him.
He began to work with the Baldwin High School Junior Varsity football team in 2016, first as assistant coach, then head coach. In 2021, he began coaching the Varsity team. He had been volunteering with the Varsity team prior to 2016 as well. Bolden also began coaching Baldwin middle school boys’ track and field in 2017.
It was in 2018 though that the coaching duo of Catapano and Bolden led the Baldwin High School Girls Varsity basketball team all the way to the Federation Championship. After a tough fight and close victory over Lutheran High, Baldwin High advanced to the finals of the Federation Championship. Though the victory was sweet, Bolden’s celebration only lasted on the court after the game before he immediately went back to his hotel room to review tapes and start preparing for their final opponents.
The Baldwin High girls’ varsity basketball team went on to win the Federation championship by nine over Christ the King High School, the number one ranked team in the nation with a 35 and zero record prior to the game. This came off the heels of the team winning the state championships in 2017 and 2018, being the first team to ever win two years in a row. At the end of the season, the Baldwin High girls’ basketball team was ranked the 4th best high school team in the nation out of 18 thousand high school teams.
Outside of sports, Bolden was also a skilled educator who worked with at-risk middle school students and was working toward becoming a full-time teacher.