Today we chat with Yreka HS (Northern Section) cross country and track and field coach, Pam Borg. Her boys' team just made the trek from up north to the world famous Canyon HS course and defeated some noteworthy teams such as Las Lomas and De La Salle at the Castro Valley Invitational this past Saturday. Following that victory (newspaper link here), the Yreka boys moved up the just released state rankings and are now ranked 5th in state in Division IV.
I started running at age 8 on the San Leandro Certfettes and then in 1970, joined the prestious San Jose Cindergals. I started out as a jumper and baseball thrower until my coach, Augie Argabright had me run with the distance runners and I kept up with them the whole practice. I remained on the club until 1981 watching three Olympians on my team, most notable was Francie Larrieu. It was a great experience to train side by side with such talent. Funny thing is , I didn't realize it until later in life, how good we were- it was just what we did everyday, nothing special. In high school, I took a year off from club competition and competed in cross country, basketball, and track. It was fun, but I missed the higher level of competition and my friends.
2) What led you into teaching and coaching? What do you teach? Who have been your mentors during your time coaching?
My running experiences and my coach led me to my love of teaching and coaching. I credit Augie for instilling in me a sense of humor and a desire to be successful. He made running fun and exciting.
I teach Physical Education and Health at the high school. My first teaching job was at Castro Valley High School. I worked with Peter Brewer, coaching Cross Country and Track and Field. Jim Eckman was my mentor and fellow coach before he retired from Yreka High School. He was all about the team details and facts, everything I'm really not about. I can't tell you my win-loss records, but I can tell you what Mikey's pr is for his mile. I like to concentrate on making each individual the best he or she can be and in turn, my team will automatically improve.
3) Tell us about your first experience coaching. What did you learn during that experience?
My first experience coaching was amazing. I just had my first baby 6 months prior when I answered an ad in the paper for a coaching position at Mission San Jose HS. Steve Strangio, Leo Sacramento, and I formed the coaching staff that year (1987). It was funny because we all happened to be MVP's in 1978 at the same meet and here we are coaching together-wierd how things happen in life. It was alot of fun. My biggest leasson that year was at a meet, I told a girl that I was going to put her on the 1600m relay. She was scared, but I told her I knew she would do great. So, later in the meet, the score was close,very close. I got scared and at the last minute, I replaced her with another girl.
I totally crushed that girl's self worth, she was crying in the locker room. I aplogized immensley, but the damage was done. She quit the team. i told myself that day that I would never put my team ahead of any individual's well-being. I lost the true meaning as to what I was trying to accomplish as a coach, I put the win first instead of the child. Big lesson learned that day-a life changing lesson.
4) How did you end up at Yreka HS? How long have you been there and what sports have you coached at Yreka HS?
I ended up in little Yreka in 1997 because of my husband's family. We visited Yreka over the summer's and we wanted to get out of the hectic life in Fremont. So, I applied for a job and luckily I got it. Never have I regretted my move here. I coahed volleyball for 2 years before getting the cross country position in 1999.
5) What was the state of the Yreka HS cross country team when you first took over the team? What did you have to change about the culture of the team?
When I first took over, it was reduced to a very small team. It had a great tradition of excellence established under the reigns of Jim Eckman. However, 15 kids on the whole team was not a good thing. It took me a few years to build my numbers up, but we had alot of success along the way. Not sure how many we won, but we did pretty well with league and section titles. I'd have to check with my A.D for the actual numbers.LOL
I think the biggest cultural change was the fact I was a female as they were use to a male coach and his coaching style. Also, I have the belief that running can be fun and hard work can be fun. Augie taught me that there must be a high expectations for your team and of yourself, but they can be acheived through hard work and alittle bit of goofiness and fun. Its that ability to "flip the switch" when work is called upon versus the fun that makes running so darn great. Runners are special people with a respect for each other's hard work in order to accomplish one's goals. We understand each other so well. I love runners.
6) During your time coaching at Yreka HS, what have been some of your proudest team and individual accomplishments?
Honestly, the look in a athlete's face and their expressions of true joy when they run their best, and achieve a personal goal, is everything to me. That feeling of accomplishment is our high. It is why we do it. Not everyone can be first, but we all can have personal successes. I guess my personal accomplishment was in 2010 when my Section nominated me for Model Coach of the Year, and I won . That mean't a lot to me to have my peers acknowledge my hard work.
7) What are your summer expectations for your cross country runners?
Run, Run, RUN is my expectation of them. Winning programs and individuals are made during the summers. Its only been the last two years that I have had the individuals, Kevin Jorgensen, Eric Neill, and Timmy Williams, Michaela Justice, Dakota Cash take this to the next level. They have influenced the others on our team to want to be the best. My captains are incharge of summer workouts, I just give them the program and they make it happen. They have been awesome.
8) What are some of your team's key workouts during the season? How much mileage do your top runners record during their highest week total?
Cruise intervals, long runs, hill repeats have been our focus. I like ladders and 400m interval workouts. The kids like hill workouts-they're weird. :) Top mileage will be reached next week with my top runners- 75 miles. Newbies top out at 50 miles a week. Double day workouts are a must through Aug-mid Oct.
9) What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of being a school competing in cross country in the North Section?
Advantages to competing in the Northern most section? The community backs you up 100%- it is their team, not just Yreka High School's team. It affords you an opportunity to build a close-knit team-we feel more like a family here-we have each other's backs, and I truly love each one of them. Fresh air is a great asset-no smog here! Another advantage is we constantly compete in two States- sometimes in the same week! We are 30 minutes form the Oregon border, so we compete against some of the State's top teams.
Disadvantages?- of course, the travel. We drive 2 hours to our nearest league competitors. Though I'd like to believe we have a bunch of talented athletes here in our Section, it gives us a false sense of reality until I look on the dyestatcal site and realize we are not at the same level as most of the State. But , we do quite well despite our shortcomings.
10) You have been involved at the state level in xc and track and field. Can you tell us a little bit about that involvement.
Not sure what you mean by involvement at the State level? We have had many individuals and teams represented at the State Meet Championships over the years. Again, you'll have to talk to my A.D to get the numbers.
As an athlete myself, in 1978 State Championships, if you were to count the points of all the Cindergal athletes competing for their schools, we would have won that State Championship Title- interesting fact -huh? :)
11) Your varsity boys are currently ranked 10th in state Division IV and just won the Castro Valley Invitational. Besides some significant traveling, what else do you have to do as a coach in order for your team to compete well at the state meet?
We are now number #5!! Woohoo!! We have been training hard and I have been working on the mental and emotional stress that comes with their success and expectations. What is written on paper is cheap, it doesn't mean too much if you can't back it up. So, its great to be acknowledged, but we have a lot of work to do to live up to what is be written about us. Its about staying humble and appreciating the good things that come out of your hard work.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
Lastly, Yreka is not on the coast!, we are on I-5, just north of Redding-look us up,come visit, stay and do some fishing and hunting with us!!
Thank you very much for your time Pam! AJC