By Ray Hamill — After a long and successful stint in charge of the St. Bernard’s softball team, head coach Alan Borges announced on Friday that he is retiring from the program.
Borges has been coaching for 19 years, including the past 14 with the Crusaders, but has decided it’s time for a change.
“It’s time,” he said. “It’s been almost 20 years. It’s time for (my wife) Shari and I to to do some things together.”
Borges, who leaves behind an impressive legacy of success, says he intends to spend more time traveling, something he has been unable to do as often as would like in the past with the commitment involved in coaching.
He took over as head coach of the program in 2005, leading the SB girls to five league titles and a pair of North Coast Section championships during his time there.
The highlight of his tenure came in 2009 when the Crusaders posted a perfect record of 25-0, capping it with a 6-2 win over rivals Ferndale in the NCS decider.
“You always think about the championships, and that 25-0 season will definitely stick in my mind,” he said. “You don’t get perfection like that too often.”
A famous playoff win over a previously undefeated Redwood Christian team in 2013 also holds a special place in the long-time coach’s heart.
“We had a lot of talent in that 25-0 team, but beating Redwood Christian, that was pretty special,” he said. “That group of kids worked really hard and they came together at the right time.”
Under Borges, the Crusaders won three straight Little 4 titles from 2009-2011, and back-to-back crowns in 2015 and 2016, as well as beating Ferndale in the NCS decider in both 2009 and 2011.
Consistency was a key component of his time in charge, with the team placing in the top two in league play in 10 of the past 11 years.
Before he was hired by the Eureka school, Borges coached five years in Little League, and followed the playing career of his oldest daughter Brittany, coaching her through high school.
His youngest daughter, Ashley, played volleyball at the school, and family has always been a big part of the coach’s career, especially his wife, whom he described as his rock.
“Shari did so much behind the scenes that people don’t realize,” he said. “She did all the things that people don’t realize you have to do.”
He also paid tribute to his many assistants over the years.
“We couldn’t have done it without them,” he said.
In particular, he says Don Reed was a huge help in his early years in charge, as was Mike Del Grande and Brett Wilsey, the latter of whom was with him almost the entire 14 years.
Borges also thanked former St. Bernard’s president Pat Daly for hiring him and current school president Paul Shanahan for his support.
But the people who made the biggest impression were the players.
“I have a ton of memories,” he said. “And some of the best things about it is seeing these kids succeed later in life.
“That’s very rewarding.”
He says he’ll now probably take some trips with Shari, but don’t be surprised to see him at the odd game.
“I’ll still be around the game,” he said. “I’ll always be an SB guy.”
Both Borges and his wife are St. Bernard’s graduates.