Kale Guldseth has embodied the spirit of Butte Central Catholic High School for basically his entire life.
Since he could walk, Guldseth has been a fixture at Butte Central sporting events — as a fan and then as a student-athlete. When he was in third grade, he routinely sat on the bench during BC boys’ basketball games with his father, assistant coach Todd Guldseth.
Saturday night when the Montana East-West Shrine Game kicks off in Laurel at 7 p.m., Guldseth will represent the Maroons one final time.
The game is one of two major appearances this week for Guldseth, who will play receiver for the West team.
On Wednesday night, Kale Guldseth gave a speech in front of a large crowd at the Maroon Activities Center during Butte Central athletics’ 100-year celebration gala. He was selected to give that speech as a representative of his generation at BC.
“Pat Kearney asked me to do it, and I couldn’t say no. I was excited he asked me,” Guldseth said. “I talked about the MAC and how I basically grew up in it. I was basically the first generation that got the opportunity to do that.”
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound Guldseth more than grew up in the MAC. He starred there as a three-year contributor for the Maroons, earning All-Conference honors last season.
His biggest moment there came when he stole the ball and scored the game-winning basket in BC’s thrilling semifinal win over Dillon in the 2013 Southwestern A divisional tournament.
That was probably the biggest moment for the BC boys’ basketball team since the MAC opened.
Guldseth wasn’t far away from the spot of his winning basket in what was almost the most significant moment in the history of the arena. That was when Alex Murphy’s game-winning 3-pointer just missed at the buzzer in the 2006 heart-stopping loss to Butte High.
“I remember Murph missing the shot,” Guldseth said. “Even Jeff Staudinger (a 2004 BC graduate), as early as that, I watched him at the Butte Civic Center and always wanted to be a Maroon.
“I’ve been around it for so long. I just grew up in there and looking up to all those people and athletes. To be considered an alumni like (Wednesday) night, it really kind of hit me that I’m done. My career’s over.”
Guldseth will continue his legacy in the Mining City when he plays basketball for Montana Tech. He signed with the Orediggers shortly before his senior season.
That signing came shortly after completing his remarkable football career at BC.
Guldseth, who graduated as a valedictorian with a 4.4 GPA, leaves BC as, at least statistically speaking, the best receiver in school history.
He is far and away the career leader with 158 receptions for 2,080 yards. He is tied with Shrine teammate Connor McGree for first in BC history with 21 receiving touchdowns.
He owns the top two receiving seasons at BC, catching 67 passes as a senior and 63 passes as a senior. Guldseth is tied for No. 1 in school history with 11 catches in one game, and his four TD receptions in a game is a school record.
Guldseth could have played football at Montana Tech or Carroll College. He opted for basketball, so Saturday’s game will be his farewell to the gridiron.
“It’s one last shot to play football,” Guldseth said. “This is it.”
The BC star said the talent on the West team, which practiced Saturday through Thursday at Montana Tech, is unreal.
“Practices are competitive because everyone here is top of the line. It’s tough to get open,” Guldseth said. ” The (defensive backs) are quick. It’s a different level coming from Class A. It’s a little different going against freshmen and sophomores every day (in high school practice) to coming out here and going against All-State kids. Most of these kids are going to go play college football. There’s only a couple of us going to play basketball.”
Guldseth said he has thoroughly enjoyed being back on the football field. It isn’t enough to make him rethink his college hoops career, however.
“I’m really looking forward to that,” Guldseth said of playing basketball at Tech. “I love football, don’t get me wrong. There’s just something about basketball that I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to give up football either, but it’s one or the other.
“I’ve been working in the offseason pretty hard,” Guldseth said. “I’m not sure if I’ll redshirt or play. Either way, I’m just happy to get an opportunity. I’m just thankful, honestly, because that’s what I wanted to do is play basketball. If need be, I’d have played football.”
In his final football game, Guldseth will be representing more than Butte Central. He will also be playing for the patients — current, past and future — at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane. Last year’s Shrine Game in Butte raised $146,000 for the hospital.
“We watched a (Shriners Hospital) video at the Red Zone,” Guldseth said. “It kind of brings a tear to your eye that we make that much of a difference and raise that much money for these kids who just aren’t as lucky as us to be out here playing.”
That gives the players on each side a little extra motivation heading into their final high school football game. It isn’t like the NFL Pro Bowl. Both sides want to win, and win badly.
“It’s a football game,” Guldseth said. “You think Shrine game and you think all these players taking it easy, but we haven’t taken it easy all week. We want to beat the East as much as they want to beat us.”
A victory would be the perfect way for Guldseth to cap his career as a Butte Central Maroon.
“It’s football game for charity, not a charity football game,” Guldseth said. “It’s one last one. I’m just going to give it my all.”
Note: ButteSports.com profiled all seven Butte players on the West roster before Saturday’s Montana East-West Shrine Game. Other Butte Westside players are Dallas Cook, Peter Granger and Johnny Walker from Butte High, and Wyatt Kingston, Connor Schulte, and Connor McGree from Butte Central.