Former Severna Park High School coach and athletic director Andy Borland will be honored with the Bernie Walter Memorial Award for exemplary service to county athletics on October 12 during the 31st annual Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame banquet in Annapolis.
Borland arrived in Maryland in 1962 to teach high school physical education because his annual salary would be $2,000 more than he could make in his native North Carolina. If it was the money that brought him to Anne Arundel County, it certainly wasn’t what has kept him here for the last 60 years.
Borland is honored to be recognized by the county with an award named after Walter, a coach whose career spanned four decades, though Borland is not sure he should be considered a “legend.”
“A legend is a myth, and a myth is a lie,” said Borland in his humble North Carolina drawl. “No matter how good you think you are, there is always somebody better.”
During this interview, not once did Borland mention the buildings, gyms or rooms that bear his name. Not once did he mention his 145-108 record during his 25 years as head football coach at Severna Park, or that his win total ranks among the highest for Anne Arundel County coaches, along with the likes of other coaching greats Al Laramore (Annapolis) and Joe Papetti (South River). Not once did he mention his teams’ county or state final appearances or championships over his 34 years at Severna Park, or that during the 20 years he served as athletic director, the Falcons won 43 state titles, or the myriad of accomplishments and awards he’s earned. The plaques, framed pictures and newspaper clippings that clutter the walls of his home office tell that story. None of those accomplishments or accolades are what Borland prefers to discuss.
In a 2012 interview with the Capital Gazette, Borland said, “Those are all history. What is important now is the time I have to give back to people who have been generous to Katie (his wife of 60 years) and me and to a community we love.”
The young Borland initially sought a better paycheck in Severna Park. Now, 24 years after he retired from teaching and coaching, Borland would rather talk about the more valuable paychecks he continues to receive.
“I look forward to watching kids I’ve taught or coached do well in life or getting a note back from a former student or player telling me I did or said something that made an impact on their life. That’s a paycheck,” Borland said. “It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since I’ve been in the classroom or on the field; teaching and coaching continue to give me paychecks.”
Borland loved teaching as much as coaching, and since his 1998 retirement, the four-sport coach has spent his “bonus years” giving back to Severna Park and Anne Arundel County.
A master woodworker and a member of the Annapolis Woodworkers Guild for more than 30 years, Borland hosts a group of men in his home workshop once a week, every week, year-round, as part of the guild’s efforts to make more than 3,000 wooden toys for children in need. He mentors others on how to make intricate wooden boxes and other projects. During his tenure with the Severna Park Community Center, he spearheaded capital campaign efforts to raise more than $5 million in the 2010s. Knowing there are kids playing with toys he’s made, or kids using the SPCC facilities, are paychecks for Borland.
“Look, when you coach and teach and you’ve had as many good years as I’ve had, you want to give back to make Severna Park a better place,” Borland said. “You coach after you quit coaching. You don’t quit teaching just because you stop teaching.”
Borland has a plaque from Kenny Dunn, an accomplished former baseball coach at South River High School who won a state championship in his final season coaching. The plaque is inscribed with words like father, brother, coach — all words that represent what Borland meant to him. The note from Dunn reads, “Everything I learned about coaching I learned from you.” Another paycheck for Borland.
“There isn’t much of me. I am just glad I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of this community,” said Borland, who considers Severna Park High School legendary coach and athletic director George Roberts a true legend. “All the kids I’ve crossed paths with have come from good stock. I just had the chance to roll the stones. That’s all there is to me.”
Borland will be recognized by the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame for his contribution to athletics, but he understands that athletics aren’t about the final score. Rather, athletics teach people how to work as a team, achieve a common goal and overcome failure.
“Get up the next day and worry about the next ball game, not the game you just got your hiney whipped,” said Borland, who long after his own playing days still cuts an impressive hulking figure. “Athletics teach life skills. I didn’t just coach football; I coached life.”
Borland recalls a compliment he received from a former player’s parent. He said, “Andy is the kind of coach you want your son or daughter to have because it’s not about the win; it’s about the lesson.”
“People ask me, ‘Andy, do you miss it,’ and I do miss it, but not how you think,” Borland said. “I dreamed about it. I didn’t dream about the games, I dreamed about teaching kids how to do the right things, or watching a boy become a man. Those are the important things in life. That’s a paycheck for me.”
He’s not nearly as nimble now as he was in his youth, but he shows no signs of slowing down. Borland supports today’s Falcons at games and events while taking time to talk to current and former players, parents and coaches.
“Just because I stopped coaching at the high school level doesn’t mean a coach stops coaching. There are always more levels. A coach just doesn’t stop. I don’t feel like I stopped,” Borland said. “I am going to be 83 and I haven’t stopped coaching anywhere. I am still going. I’ve got too much still to live for.”
He might not like the term “legend,” but in the game of life, Andy Borland has proven he’s the “GOAT,” greatest of all time.
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