|Borden athletic department is like butter -- they’re on a roll!|
Not many schools in the state have generated the kind of buzz over the past decade as Borden High School.
But to give all the credit to Doc Nash and his basketball players would do a disservice to Athletic Director Toby Cheatham and the other athletic programs at the school that are also winning.
This spring alone Borden continued to bring in the hardware.
The Lady Brave softball team won their second sectional title in a row and claimed the school’s first regional championship ever in the sport.
The baseball team won sectional, as did the girls’ tennis team.
Two athletes advanced to the state track finals with one of them, junior Julien Magallanes, finishing third in his distance race.
That list doesn’t include all the Southern Athletic Conference champions and all-conference athletes.
When asked the secret to the school’s success over the past decade, Cheatham said it’s really a simple formula.
“We have a very nice group of kids right now,” he said. “They’re solid athletes, they’re good kids and we have a lot of coaches putting in the work to be successful. All the stars are aligned right now. We have good people in place – both athletes and coaches and we are benefiting from it.
“There is no secret formula. It’s good people, good coaches and good athletes – and fortunately for our school and community we are able to take advantage of it.”
In what many considered a down year, the Borden boys’ basketball team won 13 games and finished with a winning record for the fifth year in a row. They lost in double over-time in the sectional semi-finals.
Terry Rademacher has guided the Borden girls’ basketball program to four sectional championships in five years.
All of the athletic success has changed the culture in the small town and Cheatham said people aren’t afraid to show their hometown pride.
“People are very proud to wear Borden shirts now,” he said. “I’ve been all over the state at various events and people will recognize the name. I had someone ask if we were a private school, because of the success we’ve had. That’s a good feeling to know people all over the state are starting to hear the name Borden and relate it to the athletic success we’ve had.”
Cheatham knows first-hand how the culture has changed.
He attend school in Borden and became part of the staff in 1998. He has been serving as AD for the past 12 years.
Cheatham said in addition to the coaches and athletes, he gives a lot of credit to the community for getting behind the programs.
“We recently hosted a softball regional and we estimated 500 people there to support the team,” he said. “If someone wanted to rob someone in Borden that would have been the time to do it, because the whole town was here. Our community support is behind us and that helps build all our programs, because kids hear that while there out and about and it makes them want to get involved.”
While Cheatham said the school’s improved athletic department began before Nash came on board, he does admit the 2013 basketball state title elevated expectations.
“When we won state in 2013 someone told me it was going to make all of our sports programs better, and it did and that has continued,” Cheatham said. “Kids and coaches saw it happen and they want to accomplish it, too. It was an eye-opener for our community and our athletes. They realize winning state is a possibility and everyone wants to do it. Our kids believe now and it’s raised expectations across the board.
“Raising those expectations is half the battle, because if kids expect to win, they are going to put in the work to make that happen.”
Another key to continued success has been Cheatham’s ability to hire and keep quality coaches.
Cheatham said he doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about coaches leaving because at the end of the day, Borden offers everything a coach could want.
He said Nash is a perfect example. Every spring people mention Nash’s name with job openings in the area, but Cheatham believes his coach isn’t going anywhere.
“Why would you leave a place where you feel from the community that you are loved and appreciated?” he said. “We have class sports and today your 1A schools get just as much publicity as your 4A schools. These kids and coaches are living in a time where the benefits of being at a 1A school are the same as being at the bigger 4A schools. Why would you want to leave that and go to a bigger school that just doesn’t have the same sense of community that we have here at Borden.
“We are fortunate that coaches buy into the school and the community. Doc bought 40 acres and a house and to me that was a statement that he wants to be here.”
Cheatham admitted there have been a few inquires to the availability of the athletic director who has helped put all these pieces in place, but at the end of the day, he said the credit for the success doesn’t fall on him.
“Our success here lies on the fact that our coaches are doing such a good job,” he said. “To be honest, my philosophy and my process is to hire good coaches and then allow them to do what they do. I feel like if I hired a good person, I will let them do their thing.
“Our success is about our coaches and our kids and doesn’t have as much to do with me as it does having good people in place.”
While Cheatham deflects most of the credit for the success, West Clark Superintendent Monty Schneider doesn’t.
“People ask me all over the state what we have going on in Borden and I tell them a lot of the credit goes to Toby,” he said. “Toby does a great job of making Borden athletics the only show in town and a lot of times at a small school it is the only show. Toby does a great job of treating the sports that don’t get as much attention with the same priority as he does what some people call the ‘Major’ sports. Toby and I agree they are all major sports and he treats them as such. He does a great job.”
Cheatham said the past decade or so has been an incredible ride that neither he nor his coaches are ready to end.
“I want it to continue as long as it can. I don’t think about from the standpoint about what it would be like to not be successful, I look at it like what do we need to incorporate to keep it going. You never know when it will end, so I say let’s enjoy it. But, it doesn’t have to end and if we keep the kids interested and motivated we can do it.”