Andy Borland is grateful for the twist of fate that brought a North Carolina native to Anne Arundel County.
Borland graduated from Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College in 1963 with a physical education degree and began the process of finding a teaching job. If the Durham native had waited six months, he could have gotten a job at a school in his home state, but chose instead to accept a position at Annapolis High since the pay was around $1,000 more.
Borland arrived at Annapolis High in March at the age of 23 and spent three months working alongside three well-respected teachers in Neville Leonard, Dick Peret and Mike Ballas. During that short stint at Annapolis, he met a foreign language teacher named Katie Williams who would become his wife within a year.
As Borland reflects on a remarkable career as a teacher, coach and administrator, he actually cites failing out of Duke University as the turning point in his life. After three years as a varsity wrestler, Borland was dismissed from the university located in his hometown and went to work for Sears-Roebuck.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me because I entered Atlantic Christian and changed my major to physical education, which ultimately led me to Maryland,” Borland said.
Borland knew from the outset that Annapolis High had already hired a different full-time physical education teacher who would start the following fall. That individual was Al Laramore, who would become a close friend and rival of Borland’s.
In fact, Borland and Laramore worked together during the summer of 1963 as managers of the Admiral Heights swimming pool. Andy was dating Katie, whose roommate Dorothy would wind up marrying Laramore.
“I was best man in Al’s wedding and he was a groomsman in mine,” Borland said.
Laramore would become a legendary figure at Annapolis and was inducted into the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a football, basketball and lacrosse coach. Borland will join his friend in that august body when he is presented with the Bernie Walter Memorial Award for longtime, dedicated and exemplary service to Anne Arundel County athletics.
Borland, who became a legendary figure in Severna Park High history during an illustrious 36-year tenure, will be honored during the 31st annual Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame induction banquet on Oct. 12 at The DoubleTree Hotel in Annapolis.
After the 1962-63 school year ended, Borland was given the choice of teaching physical education at Annapolis Middle or moving to Severna Park High, which had only been in existence for four years at the time.
“I went to Fred’s Restaurant and wrote the pros and cons of both places down on a napkin,” Borland said. “I chose Severna Park High and am so glad I did. The rest is history.”
Initially, Borland served as assistant coach in football under George Roberts, an assistant in wrestling with George Keedy and head coach of outdoor track and field.
A few years later, Borland founded the indoor track and field program at Severna Park and eventually led the program to the Class AA state championship in 1973.
Roberts, who was also athletic director at Severna Park High, was an important mentor for Borland. Roberts, who played football at Mississippi and North Carolina, took the young assistant under his wing.
“George Roberts was like a father to me and was a man I truly respected,” Borland said.
Roberts stepped down as football coach after suffering a heart attack and was succeeded by his trusted assistant. Borland served as head coach from 1973 to 1998 and compiled a career record of 145-108.
At his retirement, Borland’s win total ranked third in Anne Arundel County history behind Laramore and Joe Papetti, another member of the Anne Arundel County Sports Hall of Fame.
Borland gives significant credit for his success as a football coach to a strong staff of assistants that included Russ Roberts, Bill Phebus, Mike Lafferty, Kevin McGrath, Dick Keck, Bob Ferguson, Jamie Bragg, Kevin Schiavone and Mark Frye Sr.
“Andy has that one critical characteristic that all good people possess — he’s a man of high character,” said Phebus, whom Borland has called a “surrogate son.” “Andy is honest as the day is long and someone you could trust with your life.
“I could not think of a better example to young people about how to lead your life than Andy Borland.”
Borland also replaced Roberts as athletic director and served in that important role from 1977 to 1996. Severna Park High athletics flourished under his direction, capturing 42 state championships during those two decades.
Borland is thankful for the volunteer help of Frank Lafferty, who basically served as assistant athletic director long before it became an official position in Anne Arundel County.
Jim Pitt was chairman of the physical education department for most of Borland’s tenure and served as head coach of baseball from 1973 to 1999. He shared an office with Borland for 26 years and understood why the big man was so beloved by so many.
“I think Andy related to kids as well as anybody I ever met. In particular, he was a very tremendous mentor to a lot of young men,” Pitt said. “Andy communicates extremely well and has great leadership qualities. It was obvious to everyone that he truly cared about Severna Park athletics and every decision he made was for the betterment of the overall program.”
Borland lived in two different homes within the Round Bay Community before moving in January 1999 to his current residence on Point Somerset Lane. After six decades spent in Severna Park, he has nothing but fond memories of his adopted hometown.
“This is an absolutely wonderful community and Severna Park High was a special place. I was fortunate to have taught during the heyday of education and the kids I worked with at Severna Park High were just fantastic,” he said.
For Borland, success on the field took a backseat to mentoring young people.
“Winning was important, but that’s not the top criteria. In my mind, what was always most important was teaching kids the way of life,” he said.
Borland retired from the Anne Arundel County school system in June 1998 and has subsequently devoted his time, effort and energy to volunteer work. He is an active member of the Annapolis Woodworkers Guild, which makes 3,000 toys per year that are donated to underprivileged children in the county.
An active member of the Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, he was appointed as chairman of the capital campaign to transform the old YMCA property located in the heart of Severna Park. Due largely to Borland’s leadership, connections and reputation, $5.5 million was raised to build the Severna Park Community Center on Baltimore & Annapolis Boulevard.
Perry Shaner, retired pastor of Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, marveled at the dedication and diligence Borland displayed toward making the community center a reality.
“There’s no doubt that Andy being one of the best known residents of Severna Park was a real boost to the project. It was a lot easier to get people to donate their money or time,” Shaner said.
Shaner noted that Borland started a mens’ bible study class at Woods Memorial, same as his father did back in Durham. It has grown and grown over the years to the point a large crowd gathers every Sunday morning for faith and fellowship.
Shaner described Borland, who will celebrate his 83rd birthday on Monday, as a real life celebrity for the entire Severna Park community.
“When you go to lunch with Andy, it’s hard to eat and have a conversation because of the steady stream of people stopping by to say hello and shake his hand,” Shaner said. “Andy is truly one of a kind. There won’t be another like him.”
When: Wednesday, Oct. 12
Where: DoubleTree Hotel, Annapolis
Tickets: $50 each; $500 for table of 10