Apr 21, 2018
Mary de Malvinsky (nee Bolesta) was center on the first UCSC women's team in 1973. Originally from Tulelake, CA, she still lives in the Santa Cruz area with her family and is a realtor in Capitola.
What was it like on the first teams in the early 1970s?
I had played in high school and loved the game. Being almost 5 foot 10 and a good shot made me a pretty good center. I had a great one handed "swisher" and good at jumping. There were not many of us, as far as women basketball players. Everyone played well together.
We played full court as I recall where as in high school girls were thought of as more "delicate", and only ran half court. So it was challenging to run so far. I also learned to play tennis and sailing.
How was it sailing?
I was one of very few women to learn to sail and go on long trips. Usually, it was me on a shipload of guys. I did pretty well after getting over seasickness. Jeff Eisenberg the skipper, was a student as well. I remember off Santa Barbara we traded a bad bottle of "Ripple" wine for fresh lobster at sea! On that Santa Cruz Island trip, once I was asked to sit up in a tree as there were wild boar about! I can't remember what the others were doing, why I was left. On the way back home, we were becalmed (wind just stopped) on our sail boat, and then our engine wouldn't start! We ended up being rescued and stayed in Morro Bay.
What did you do after UCSC?
Walking down the path from Cowell where I lived, I met Jean de Malvinsky, a player/coach for the men's volleyball team. We have been married for 40 years!
Jean got offered a job in Ivory Coast, French West Africa, on a public health project to eradicate the guinea worm and I went along for the ride.
We stayed for 1 1/2 years with many adventures.We lived in Odienné, quite remote and I was the only American in the city, and one of the few English speakers. We lived in a newly constructed home surrounded by jungle. We had huge spiders, scorpions crawling under the door and once were invaded by large ants. Monkeys walked on our walls. Despite these intrusions, we lived well. Jean went to villages and sometimes I went along. I was a subject of intense interest in remote villages as many had never seen a white woman who had bright blue eyes and long braided hair. Women would touch my hair. I was really a curiosity.
I really needed to work with little to do as we had a cook, guard and driver. I had no friends, phone or TV but soon found a job as a teacher in the local Lycee (high school) teaching English. The original teacher didn't show up for the job, the principal thought it interesting to have an American who couldn't speak French with an American instead of British accent. I had no teaching credential or experience but had a masters degree which was all they required. I had 265 students, 5 classes .
Luckily, I brought a lot of funky soul music which I played in class, music I had learned to appreciate with a previous job at Fort Ord. I became the most popular teacher until I got sick and had to quit.
I spent free time photographing wildlife while going on excursions with hunters.