Assistant AD a driving force for Sewickley Academy sports

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Sunday, January 30, 2022 | 11:01 a.m.


Heather Border and athletics go hand in hand.

She has devoted almost her entire life to sport, first as a tri-sport athlete, then as a coach, and now as an administrator and coach.

Border, 45, is assistant director of sports at Sewickley Academy, a role which began in 2001. She is AD Win Palmer’s longtime assistant.

“Win and I make a great team,” Border said. “He is ‘philosophy’ and I ‘logistics’. I like to make sure the day-to-day logistics of games and practices run smoothly for coaches, players and parents, as well as opposing teams.

“It also allows me to see the students outside of the classroom and see them grow on and off the field. Since athletics played a major role in my upbringing, I am able to relate to them and guide them as best I can during their time here.

Palmer said Border’s positive attitude helps create a stable work environment in the SA athletic program.

“Heather fulfills many roles at SA including working with our coaches in game and officiating planning,” Palmer said. “She is an important part of our communications team with daily and weekly updates to our families. She acts as a link between our faculty and our buildings and grounds team.

“Everything Heather works on at SA, she accomplishes it with a can-do attitude. Students, faculty, staff and families feel more comfortable contacting Heather knowing that she will respond to both fast and friendly way.

Border attended Mount Lebanon where she played soccer, basketball, and softball, earning three varsity letters in each sport.

She was a starting striker in the legendary 1992 women’s soccer team in Mount Lebanon, which was the school’s first state soccer champion.

Mt. Lebanon defeated Philadelphia’s Villa Joseph Marie, 2-0, in the PIAA Finals at Shippensburg University. Border and Molly Bushman scored the game’s only goals.

“During my time at Mt. Lebanon, we had a very successful run as most of us grew up playing home football together, then club football and PA West,” Border said.

The Blue Devils also won a WPIAL championship in Border’s senior season.

Border continued his successful football career after graduating from high school at Duquesne University. She was a four-year starter forward for the Dukes.

“It was an amazing experience playing in what was then the Atlantic 10 Conference,” Border said. “After graduation, I became the graduate assistant of the women’s soccer team and got my master’s degree.”

In 2005, Border added two more titles to his resume.

She was hired that year as an assistant football coach at SA and has been coaching Jessica Peluso ever since.

Later that year, the Palmer-coached Panthers softball program went through a rebuild. Border and Shannon Rankin took over as co-head coaches.

“Win approached me to help with the rebuilding process,” Border said, “and I’ve been coaching in the program ever since.”

In her role as AD Assistant, Border provides administrative support to Palmer and the SA coaching staff and acts as a liaison with faculty, staff, students and parents. It is a full time position.

“My role has changed since my debut in 2001,” Border said. “I was more of an administrative assistant at the time. After a few years and under the mentorship of Win Palmer, my title changed, as did my roles and responsibilities.

In conjunction with Palmer and SA Coaches, Border organizes and schedules athletic events and practices for the college and senior academy.

“With that comes transportation, referees and all the other game day necessities,” she said. “In this position, I was able to connect with other WPIAL Athletic Directors. Attending sporting events, whether at home or in the playoffs, gave me the opportunity to diversify and grow. get to know other people in this profession.

“Being part of the rebuilding process of the softball team and also being the assistant DA, I will never forget winning a section title and making the WPIAL playoffs. Every time a team outdoes themselves, there’s a great sense of accomplishment.

Border relishes the day-to-day activities of his administrative role.

“My undergraduate degree at DU was criminal justice with a minor in psychology,” she said. “I was lucky enough to pivot and go back to school for my master’s, which allowed me to get into sports administration.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and support Sewickley has given me over the years. We have an amazing coaching staff, student-athletes who strive for better and amazing support from our parents. Every day is different.You might think you have a plan, and the next thing your day has completely changed.

One of the advantages of working in the sports office is its location. Border’s office overlooks the Means Alumni Gym.

“It’s one of the best views on campus,” Border said. “I’m extremely lucky. And Win’s office is right next to mine.

Palmer, who coaches the men’s basketball and golf teams, appreciates the extraordinary connection he and Border have made over the past two decades at Sewickley Academy.

“Heather and I work closely together, meeting multiple times throughout the day because there are so many moving parts to providing a special experience for our K-12 students and families,” Palmer said. “(We) serve as a role model for the over 40 coaches and everyone we have been involved with throughout our 21 years at SA.

“No challenge is too big and working together to find solutions to every challenge is both exhilarating and demanding. Our sports team is made up of many people, and Heather and I do our best to listen to their contributions and concerns.

Looking ahead, what are the expectations for the Sewickley Academy sports program in the future?

“We want our student-athletes to compete at the highest level and see them progress individually and as a team,” Border said. “Continue to prepare them for life beyond the academy’s walls and sports fields.

“Athletics is also about instilling life skills such as leadership, commitment and teamwork. We want our student-athletes to develop a sense of pride, commitment and community at Sewickley Academy .

Border wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tags: Sewickley Academy

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