Newly appointed executive director of athletics Tracey Borchardt has been a part of Ector County ISD all her life as a student, an athlete, teacher and coach so it seemed natural that she would rise to the top of the athletics department as its executive director.
To top it off, her parents, now retired, both coached in ECISD. Borchardt is the first woman hired to the top athletic director position in the district.
Most recently, she was assistant athletic director overseeing all the sports in Odessa.
She will replace Bruce McCrary, who is retiring June 30. Borchardt officially starts as executive director July 1.
“I grew up in the gym because both of my parents were coaches. When my parents moved here when I was just a little girl I grew up hanging out in the gyms …,” Borchardt said.
“… My dad was a coach at Hood (now Wilson & Young Middle School) and he went to OHS (Odessa High School). He coached football, cross country and track at OHS. My mom coached volleyball at OHS. That’s just how I grew up, learning sports, and I made a career out of it.”
Although she was more tied to Odessa High School, Borchardt went to Permian High School and played volleyball there; she also did some shot putting. She went to Odessa College and University of Texas Permian Basin where she earned her bachelor’s degree.
“They didn’t have sports at UTPB. I stayed just because I had an academic scholarship” and college was fun, she said.
Following in her parents’ footsteps, Borchardt went into teaching and coaching and she’s been in it for 32 years.
A benefit to being an administrator on the athletic side, as opposed to a coach, is that she doesn’t have to worry about preparing a specific team for a meet, for example.
“I just get to go to everything and be a part of it and that’s just so much fun. But you have to love the sports. You have to kind of learn them and grow to understand why you’re there,” Borchardt said.
Even though she doesn’t know all the athlete’s names, she gets a roster, tries to figure out who they are and yells for them.
“It’s real hard going to an OHS-Permian game and not cheer for them,” Borchardt said. She has to cheer for both.
Borchardt said she didn’t know she would get the executive director’s position and she was surprised when McCrary said he was retiring.
“… Then going after the job, I was just hoping. But I was also prepared that if it didn’t work out it was OK because I like my job (as assistant director). I have fun at what I do, so … hopefully if I don’t get it, the new person coming in, I hope they like me and I get to keep my job … That was … one of those you keep your fingers crossed type deals,” she said.
When the item came up on the ECISD Board of Trustees agenda, the board voted to name her executive director unanimously. Borchardt also had the support of coaches she worked with in the administration office and in the field.
“… I go to every event and if I don’t get to stay for the entire event, I’m going to be there for as long as I can be because I want my coaches to know that I’m there for them. I support them. That’s just the way this department is going to work …,” Borchardt said.
She saw the coaches around her at the board meeting and wondered what they were doing there.
“I did not know that they were going to be there. It was a total surprise. I didn’t even know for sure I was going to get the job that night. I was like how does this work? I think that just goes along with the respect that we all have for each other. And it makes it a great working environment to be honest,” Borchardt said.
McCrary said Borchardt is well qualified to run the athletic department.
“She knows the district well, has a great understanding of UIL guidelines and has the respect of the coaches. I look forward to watching her move the department forward,” McCrary said in a text message.
McCrary did a good job of laying the foundation, but she said they know the focus has to be on academics and getting students to understand that “academics is first and athletics is second.”
“We’re going to continue moving forward with that frame of mind and we’re really trying to reach out to kids to hit some goals that are district goals that we’re trying to incorporate into athletics. We’ve been very fortunate that our numbers are pretty good when it comes to percentages of pass/fail rate and attendance, but we’ve still got to get better at what we do.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to be the driving force to help the district on the improvements because we have a lot of improving to do all the way around. We’re just going to keep working on that,” Borchardt said.
The struggle right now is with virtual learning.
“We can’t move forward until we get all the kids rounded up and everybody’s on the same page. To me, it’s been kind of a culture shock and we’re trying to raise the bar and what’s holding us back, the virtual piece is supposed to be moving us forward, and we’re not reaching out to the kids. … We’ve got to get our numbers up because we know when our numbers are up in athletics and … performing arts is the same way, our kids perform better in school. We’ve got to reach out to those kids and get their parents involved,” Borchardt said.
She added that she was fortunate to have the backing of her parents. They pushed her and taught her to be a good person.
“That’s what we’ve got to do with the kids we have coming at us. Somebody in our life pushed us and now they need someone to push them,” Borchardt said.
Borchardt’s husband Berry is a retired school teacher and coach. They had taught together since 1989-1990 at Crockett Middle School and then they went to OHS together.
“When I came back here (to the administration building), he retired. He coached football and basketball and then was head boys’ basketball coach; then he was the girls’ golf coach and taught AP world history,” she added.
They go to almost every event together.
“He loves sports,” Borchardt said.