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The State Coach of the Year is not something that is awarded to a coach that is a flash in the pan or has had some success in their first few years at the helm of a winning program.
However, despite just five years as the Amador Valley of Pleasanton head coach, it is Teresa Mayes-Borchard who wins the award for 2018 with a compelling story of consistent success since she took the position, coupled with overcoming some extreme adversity over the past couple of years.
With a Cal-Hi Sports tradition of only honoring a coach once which always eliminates some very deserving coaches this past season for California’s top coaching award in softball, Mayes-Borchard still beats out some top-notch coaches, and with her personal challenges makes it an even better story.
When her team beat arch-rival cross-town Foothill 2-0 in this year’s CIF North Coast Section Division I title game, it was the third NCS D1 title in the five years Mayes-Borchard has been the head coach.
Mayes-Borchard may have only five years under her belt at the Dons’ helm, but in reality she started at Amador Valley in 2007 as the top assistant to East Bay softball legend Julie Marshall when they also started the Lady Hustle travel ball team.
It took four years to build a program that had never won a North Coast Section title into a champion, but in 2011 they won the NCS Division I title and the program has been one of the most dominant in Northern California since then.
When Marshall decided to step aside after the 2013 season, Mayes-Borchard was unquestionably the choice to replace her.
Mayes-Borchard had the Dons at the top of the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings in Northern California for most of the 2018 season, but after 1-0 and 8-0 losses to Foothill, some folks were anointing the Falcons rather than the Dons as the top NCS and NorCal team going into the NCS Division I playoffs. Even the NCS seeding criteria almost had Mayes-Borchard and her girls as an afterthought after only giving them a No. 4 seed.
But then, a not so funny thing and a really great thing for the Dons faithful occurred on the way to the NCS Division I title game. Mayes-Borchard got into a motorcycle accident, and the girls rallied around her, and simultaneously Northwestern-bound pitcher and slugger Danielle Williams became virtually unhittable in the playoffs.
Just a few days after the 8-0 loss to Foothill in the East Bay Athletic League playoff title game, and a day before the Dons were to face Mt. Eden in the first round of the playoffs, Mayes-Borchard was on her motorcycle when she hit an oil slick and then made contact with a car.
“Thank goodness, I had a good helmet, leather jacket and boots,” Mayes-Borchard remarked.
Even so, she suffered a broken collarbone and three broken ribs.
“I tried to get the doctors to release me early so I could get to practice,” continued Mayes-Borchard with a bit of a chuckle. “But I was in Castro Valley and they had cut up my clothes prior to transporting me to the hospital. I called my assistant Jenny from the hospital and said I couldn’t make it to practice but I’d see them the next day.”
An arm-in-sling, Mayes-Borchard arrived at the Mt. Eden game and the rest is history.
“I showed up and coached third base but I was in a lot of pain,” Mayes-Borchard said. “But I’ve been in a lot of pain on and off the last couple of years, and nothing was going to stop me from being at that game.”
Williams asked her coach if she was okay and promptly went out and started performing magic in the circle and at the plate. After four shutouts it was Mayes-Borchard and her girls that were all smiles in the postgame huddle and taking home the hardware after Williams pitched a four-hitter with 11 strikeouts and hit a home run in the NCS D1 title game victory over Foothill.
Just winning one NCS D1 title in what is one of the state’s toughest leagues is a testament to a solid program and coach, but winning three in five years is a truly remarkable accomplishment, and with what went on this year it could be called almost a miracle considering there were other unfortunate twists to the story of Mayes-Borchard and her girls.
Mayes-Borchard’s motorcycle accident was only one of two vehicular accidents that befell Amador Valley, and one of two big personal obstacles for Mayes-Borchard to overcome this season.
While the girls were at the Carew Tournament in Orange County, tragedy struck and Mayes-Borchard and her assistants had to keep the girls together and focused. The girls opened with a win over a very solid and state-ranked Huntington Beach and had just lost a 1-0 heartbreaker to state-ranked Cathedral Catholic of San Diego. They were scheduled to meet national powerhouse Norco the next day when they got some bad news that necessitated getting one of the players to Pismo Beach.
“We had a father involved in a serious ATV accident and got word the evening before the Norco game,” Mayes-Borchard said. “We all had trouble sleeping that night waiting on word on how he was doing. Trying to rally them for that game was really hard.”
Amador Valley lost to Norco and then to Mater Dei of Chula Vista to go 1-3 at the Carew, and it dropped them down in the rankings, but the good news is the team dad is recovering from his injuries and was even able to get to the playoffs to cheer the team on to victory.
If all this was not enough believe it or not there is more. When Mayes-Borchard said she’s been in pain on and off for a couple of years she means it.
The pain began in August of 2016 with a surgery that didn’t go well and necessitated two additional surgeries in October and December. She was bedridden for several months but somehow got out of bed in February, largely at Marshall’s urging, to coach in 2017 although her movement in the third-base coaches’ box was impaired.
Since then, she’s had to have 16 nerve blocks due to the pain, with several coming just before and during this past season. All this as a result of nerve damage that is affecting her heart, blood pressure, and causes numbness. Once some healing takes place she will have a fourth surgery.
After going through a physically painful 2017 season, plus the pain on the field of getting upset in the NCS D1 playoffs as the top seed, she still wasn’t finished. Despite almost two years of constant suffering Mayes-Borchard answered the bell for the 2018 season.
“I really wanted to be out there with the girls,” said Mayes-Borchard. “It was really hard at the beginning of the season. My assistant coaches and seniors had to pick it up.”
They picked up their coach and leader, and she carried them when they were down and seemingly out after the 8-0 loss to Foothill.
“After the Foothill loss I looked at every one of them in the eye and said ‘do not give in, do not quit. Do you all understand me. We have got this and I need you to trust me on this,” Mayes-Borchard recalled.
Knowing what they knew about what their coach was going through, and the adversity that struck the team at the Carew tourney, somehow fired up the girls and with Williams dealing and the girls hitting the Dons brought home the title.
“Seeing her out there with everything she’s been going through definitely fired me up, and especially in the playoffs,” said Williams, a finalist for Ms. Softball State Player of the Year. “We all wanted to be there for her like she was there for us this season when her health wasn’t that good, and for me all four years. Coach doesn’t just teach softball, she teaches life lessons. She’s just a great coach.”
“My main coaching philosophy is to teach resiliency and grit, so when hard times hit I have to be a role model for that,” Mayes-Borchard said.
“Another basic premise of what I teach the girls is it’s a safe place to fail,” Mayes-Borchard continued. “When something hard happens it’s usually right before something fantastic happens. It’s like an arrow. It doesn’t launch from the bow until its pulled back.”
She might be in constant pain and that’s real hard to live with, but what’s truly fantastic is her arrow has hit the bulls-eye because Teresa Mayes-Borchard and her inspirational story and season has earned her being named the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year.
All-Time List Cal-Hi Sports
State Softball Coaches Of The Year
2018 – Teresa Mayes-Borchard, Pleasanton Amador Valley (23-5-1)
2017 – Mike Noel, Clovis (25-6)
2016 – Judy Shaubach, Madera (26-7)
2015 – Margaret Neill, Lancaster Paraclete (27-4)
2014 – Margaret Mauro, San Diego Cathedral Catholic (29-3)
2013 – Mike Smith, Chino (26-2)
2012 – Rick Robinson, Norco (30-2)
2011 – Scott Smith, Hollister San Benito (29-1)
2010 – Teri Johnson, Union City James Logan
2009 – Tony Dobra, San Pedro (28-4)
2008 – Duane Zauner, Lake of the Pines Bear River (29-3)
2007 – Mary Jo Truesdale, Sacramento Sheldon
2006 – John Perez, Corona Santiago (26-5)
2005 – Art Banks, Roseville Woodcreek (28-6)
2004 – Pete Ackermann, Westlake Village Oaks Christian (34-1)
2003 – Rob Weil, Garden Grove Pacifica (31-2)
2002 – Brad Griffith, San Diego Mira Mesa (35-1)
2001 – Gary Walin, Thousand Oaks (24-5)
2000 – Jo Ann Byrd, Corona (28-4)
1999 – Jim Liggett, Belmont Carlmont (35-4)
1998 – Joe Given, Salinas Notre Dame (30-2-1)
1997 – Alan Dugard, Irvine Woodbridge (34-2)
1996 – Nancy Acerrio, Chula Vista Hilltop (27-2)
1995 – Marie Dean, Fremont Washington (27-0)
1994 – Joe Gonzalez, Tustin Foothill (25-7)
1993 – Jill Matyuch, Covina Charter Oak (29-0-1)
1992 – Jeff Carlovsky, Escondido (26-2)
1991 – Kevin Newman, San Jose Gunderson (33-2)
1990 – Susie Calderon, Huntington Beach Marina (28-5)
1989 – Sharon Coggins, Ventura Buena (28-2)
1988 – Rich Kerr, San Lorenzo Arroyo (29-1)
1987 – Bob Regpala, Stockton Lincoln (30-0)
1986 – Dick Barnes, El Monte Arroyo (22-1)
1985 – Neils Ludlow, Woodland Hills El Camino Real (19-0)
1984 – Aaron Ishikawa, Stockton Lincoln (37-1)
1983 – Carol Hamilton, San Diego Madison (23-1)
1982 – Rich Spiekerman, Lodi (29-3)
1981 – Leslie Steffen, Hanford (20-4)
1980 – Bob Bush, Santa Maria Righetti (29-0)
1979 – Barbara Weding, Santa Rosa Montgomery (26-1)
1978 – Peggy Linville, Fairfield Armijo (23-0)
1977 – Betsy Ward, Huntington Beach Marina (17-0)
1976 – Janet Balsley, Chula Vista Hilltop (17-0)
1975 – Sally Carmen, Downey Warren (19-1)
1974 – Sandi Behrmann, El Segundo (undefeated)
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend