Selin selected for hall of fame

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Will be inducted Thursday at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy

For Carl Selin, "it's been a great life."

He's been married to a very special lady, Dana, for 43 years.

Their four children are all successful.

And they have been blessed with nine grandchildren.

That's just on the personal front.

Professionally, it's been just as rewarding.

He had the opportunity to work and coach with the legendary Otto Graham.

Selin never lost a high school varsity football game as a head coach.

And his 1963 baseball team dominated collegiate play in New England and earned him regional Coach of the Year honors from the NCAA.

Just a few highlights from an outstanding coaching career.

"It was a wonderful ride," the 77-year-old retired coach and professor said last week from his home near Echo Lake.

"I'm very happy with the way my life has gone. We just try to appreciate every day out here."

Now the United States Coast Guard Academy will show its appreciation, once again, for Selin as he joins the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.

He will be inducted Thursday evening during a special ceremony that coincides with the academy's Homecoming Weekend.

"I think it's great," he said.

"They probably had to pick somebody," he joked.

It's second time he's made the long journey back to New London, Conn. in five years. He was named professor emeritus at the academy in September of 1999.

"I'm very proud," he said, finally being more serious.

"It's a great place with great kids.

"It's not for everybody," he continued.

"You gotta be smart. It offers some wonderful opportunities. You get paid to go there and you have a full-time job when you're finished."

Selin says he will get three to five minutes to sum up his feelings and share his academy experiences with those attending the induction ceremony.

"I usually tell a couple of jokes," he said. "I think I will tell them a little bit about Montana."

The Selins moved to Montana in 2002 to be closer to their daughter Karen. She is currently a specialist in sports medicine at Montana State University.

"Eleven states," counted Selin on where he has lived.

"I love Montana. It's a wonderful place."

Selin was born in Berkeley, Calif., in 1927. His father was a preacher in the Swedish Methodist Conference.

As a result, the family moved quite often. He spent the bulk of his childhood in the Midwest.

Selin graduated from Amundsen High School in Chicago in 1945. He was a quarterback and safety on the football team and a catcher in baseball.

He joined the Navy when he was 17 and spent 1 1/2 years active duty, six years inactive.

He graduated from Northern Illinois University in three years. He also played football and baseball for the Huskies.

"I started a few games," he said.

"Played enough. An average college player."

Selin went on to complete his postgraduate work at the University of Illinois and University of Iowa.

He coached and taught at two high schools in Illinois and Iowa, did the same at Aurora College and the University of California at Riverside.

He left Riverside in 1959 for the academy, where he was commissioned a lieutenant commander.

"If I was going to teach cadets, I wanted to be in the same boat they were," he said.

"I was always happy wearing the uniform and very proud of it, too."

He was an assistant football coach at the academy for three years and head baseball coach for five. The year before Selin arrived at the academy, the baseball team failed to win a game.

His 1963 team had two players who could have played professionally.

"That year we could have played with anybody," he said.

"All the big schools."

In addition to his coaching duties, he was the head of the physical education program.

He retired from the academy in 1979 after 20 years of service.

A press release regarding his induction into the Athletic Hall of Fame said he established the current physical education program for developing all cadets enrolled and instituted a revolutionary program that centered on lifetime sports skills, physical fitness and wellness. The core of that program remains the cornerstone of the present day program.

On coaching with Graham - "It was great," he said.

"He was an unusual guy. He's in a different world. Everyone knew Otto."

Selin said it was not unusual to answer the phone in the coaches' office and have someone like "Richard Nixon or Don Shula," on the line looking for "Otto."

Or to walk out on the court and see Graham playing tennis with Don Budge, who dominated that sport professionally in the late 1930s.

Graham guided the Cleveland Browns to three NFL championships. He was a five time all-pro and named NFL MVP twice.

Graham retired from football in 1955 and joined the academy the same year as Selin.

"I knew Otto through football meetings," said Selin before they hooked up together.

"I wasn't a close friend."

Selin recalls once going to a television final rehearsal of the Perry Como Show with Graham. As the two walked in, Como immediately stopped everything and came down to talk with them.

"Very good, very generous," said Selin of Graham.

"A genuine, great (guy) . A hard worker."

When Graham left the academy to coach the Washington Redskins in 1966, Selin took over as the athletic director.

In 1965, Selin received a Fulbright professorship, which allowed him to teach at a university in Finland.

He also had the opportunity to coach a Finnish basketball team against a team from Russia.

"I got to see where my dad was born," he said.

"Wherever I went, people wanted to learn English. I would have to say that was the greatest year of my life."

"He would have liked me to," said Selin of being in the ministry like his father.

"I appreciate all the things he (his dad) had done for so many people. Turning their lives around. I was very fortunate to have such wonderful father and mother.

"My high school coach and Spanish teacher were the ones who steered me into being a teacher and a coach," he said.

"They were very influential in my life. They kept in touch with me throughout my career."

As a result

"I still keep in touch with my former football and basketball players," he said.

After retiring from the academy, he ran summer camps on the coast of Maine for eight years. There he taught sailing programs for 10 weeks on the ocean and canoe trips inland.

"Probably the great thing in my life I enjoyed (the most) was the outdoors," he said. "Working with kids in a camping situation was the ultimate."

He finally retired for good in 1988.

David Lesnick/Daily Inter Lake

Carl Selin poses with a poster promoting the United States Coast Guard home football schedule for the 1967 season.

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