From an ugly duckling to the master of all he surveyed, Chuck Darling went on to become a college basketball All-American and a three-time AAU All-American.
It was a fast track through the awkward days of immense growth as a sophomore in high school in Helena, Montana, to one of the country’s best basketball players and a member of the dominating 1956 United States Olympic Team.
Darling admits to “always being a head taller” than his classmates. As a 17-year-old sophomore, he grew from 6-foot-2 to 6-7 by the time the Montana State tournament rolled around. The following year, Darling’s family moved to Denver and began one of the storied careers in Colorado high school athletics. Not only did Darlings’ South High dominate the Denver Prep League, but it also won the state championship on what was not a one-man team. Darling was named to the All-Tournament team along with other senior guards Arlie Beery and Myran Craig.
“In fact”,” Darling said, “we only lost two games at South (in his two years). We lost the first game of the season to Colorado Springs when Arlie Beery and Myran Craig were still playing football. We lost the game by two points to Manual in the state championship my senior year.”
Darling matriculated at the University of Iowa, where he was an outstanding student in geology as well as the Hawkeyes’ star player. For his hard work, he was named to the 1952 All-America team his senior year in Iowa City, as well as being named the Big Ten’s Most Valuable Player and earning the conference’s medal of excellence. Darling earned Phi Beta Kappa, and became an enduring state hero in Iowa. He was among the second class of those elected to the Iowa Hall of Fame.
Armed with his geology degree, Darling headed for Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and joined the country’s perennially top amateur basketball team, the Phillips 66ers, and began a 29-year association with the company.
Darling was a member of the 1956 U.S. Olympic team that boasted Bill Russell and K.C. Jones, and former University of Colorado stars Burdie Haldorson and Bob Jeangerard. That team was so dominating in the Melbourne Games in Australia, “the closest game we had we won by thirty points. We beat the Russians by 34 points the first time we played them, then beat the Russians again by thirty points for the championship,” Darling said.
The closest game we had we won by thirty points. We beat the Russians by 34 points the first time we played them, then beat the Russians again by thirty points for the championship.