Former U of M women’s basketball coach Pam Borton, since leaving the school, now coaches senior business executives.
After nearly 30 years as a Division I head coach, Borton was the fifth Gopher coach we covered in our women’s basketball beat. She recently published On Point: A Coach’s Game Plan for Life, Leadership, and Performing With Grace Under Fire (Morgan James).
It’s an easy read, divided into five basketball-themed parts — Master The Front Court; Dominate The Center Court; Defend The Back Court; Build Your Bench; and Leverage The Locker Room. It’s part autographical, part instructional, part inspirational and all good, a book easily adaptable to non-coaches and coaches alike and everyone else in between.
It’s been awhile since we talked after she was unceremoniously dismissed after a dozen seasons in Minnesota in 2014, a year after the same happened to her counterpart Tubby Smith. Shortly after her dismissal she started her executive consulting business but never saw herself as a first-time author.
Borton’s successful first book-writing effort “combines lessons, narratives, successes, mishaps, and a game plan in each chapter…,” she wrote in her introduction.
“My businesses started to take off, and I was too busy to write the book,” admitted Borton in a recent MSR phone interview. “I knew I needed a block of time to write the book,” but it took plenty of encouragement from friends, loved ones and others “and a lot of people kicking me in the pants until I [got] it done,” noted the former coach. “I learned a lot and made a lot of mistakes writing the book.”
“I wrote 27 chapters for 27 years of coaching,” she continued. “I’m a very successful executive coach now.”
But does she miss basketball coaching? She remains the only Gopher women’s basketball coach to take a team to the Final Four and three straight Sweet Sixteen appearances. “Obviously March Madness is a huge time of the year as a coach, player and a fan,” she quickly noted.
“Coaching is in my blood. Maybe my first year out of coaching it was more turmoil than anything because you want to be part of March Madness as a coach. Now it brings so much excitement [and] energy that non-sport people have no idea what it’s all about and what college sport is about.
“I have very few moments that make me sad in March other than my last two seasons with 20-plus wins and didn’t get into the [NCAA] tournament. [But] I was very proud of those seasons.”
Borton now resides on the East Coast but regularly returns to Minnesota — she is scheduled in April to speak at the Carlson School of Business. “I really still feel that Minneapolis is my home,” said. “When I come back a couple of times a month, I’m there, I’m home.
“I’m still extremely involved with the University of Minnesota — I speak at sport management classes. I have an endowment in the college of education and human development. I’m still very involved, and people [at the school] want me to be involved because of successes, and I was a huge part of the University of Minnesota in its better days.”
Globe-tracking the Lynx
As training camp is about a month away, Renee Montgomery (Poland), Keisha Hampton (Israel) and Anna Cruz (Russia) are on clubs now in post-season play. Rebekkah Brunson (Turkey), Natasha Howard (South Korea) and Janel McCarville (Sweden) are finishing up their overseas commitments as well.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.