Accent Stories

Harold "Bud" Boughton


Harold “Bud” Boughton is a shining example of the transformative power of Ashland University. A Division I football player from Buffalo, New York, Boughton came to Ashland in 1970 after the University of Buffalo dropped its football program. He quickly made a name for himself as a star player on the undefeated 1972 team, and was named the school’s first-ever Academic All-American in football.

But Boughton’s time at Ashland was about more than just football. He also credits the people he met at Ashland with having a profound impact on his life. His coaches, Dr. Fred Martinelli, Coach John Valentine, Coach Gary Moose and Coach Bill Brelsford, taught him the importance of excellence and teamwork. His professors, Dr. Ella Shannon and others, instilled in him a love of learning and a desire to make a difference in the world. And his friends, like Virgil Cox and his wife Donna, provided him with a supportive and loving community.

At Ashland, Boughton learned valuable life lessons that shaped his character and perspective. As his coach, Dr. Fred Martinelli, often said, “If you’re not getting better EVERY day, you’re probably going in the other direction.” This philosophy instilled in Boughton a commitment to excellence and continuous improvement, which became a guiding principle in his life.

Boughton’s transformation at Ashland wasn’t just academic or athletic; it was also deeply personal. During his time at the University, he experienced a religious conversion that forever changed his life’s trajectory. He says: “I realized I was going to need the living presence of Jesus Christ in my life more than ever.” This profound experience gave him a new sense of purpose and direction, contributing significantly to the man he would become.

After graduating from Ashland, Boughton embarked on a successful career in business and banking. Reflecting on his professional journey, he notes, “The IBM experience, then, versus what it is today, was like getting an MBA!” This statement underscores the real-world skills and knowledge he gained during his career, which complemented and expanded upon the foundation he built at Ashland.

In addition to his business pursuits, Boughton also became a USA Hockey official, officiating hundreds of games at all levels. His passion for hockey–thanks in part to a Canadian father who loved the sport–coupled with his dedication to fair play and excellence, has made him a respected figure in the sport. At 72, Boughton is currently the oldest USA Hockey official in the Indianapolis Hockey Officials Association (the IHOA has roughly 145 hockey officials) and he consistently referees over 100 games each year.

Today, Boughton continues to give back in terms of sharing what he’s learned through his life experiences and helping others gain perspective on where they are in their journey. He has made a significant impact on the lives of many people across a wide range of contexts–as a mentor, a teacher and a friend. Gathering a lifetime of wisdom, he has written three books (on “three different subjects,” he says with a smile): The Missing Piece – Our Search for Security in an Insecure World, Dad’s Last Letter – Leadership Principles for the Next Generation and Coaching is Teaching at its Best! – A Guide for Youth Coaches in ALL Sports. He is also a regular guest on various podcasts and is regularly featured on Shine.FM radio–a not-for-profit Christian radio station affiliated with Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL–during his one-minute “What Really Matters!” moments. 

Boughton’s story shows the power of the transformative experiences that happen at Ashland. He came to Ashland as a talented athlete, but he left as a well-rounded individual with a strong work ethic, a commitment to excellence and a passion for helping others. He is truly an outstanding alumnus, and while Ashland University is proud to call him one of its own, he is just as ready to return the favor.

“Ashland is ‘hallowed ground’ for me,” Boughton says. “It will always have a special place in my heart.”

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