C.J.: Pam Borton saw circle of friends shrink after her firing

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 4, 2014 - 2:15 PM

Former Gophers women’s basketball coach Pam Borton has taken her passion for mentoring to the pro level, so to speak.

Her nonprofit, TeamWomenMN, is holding its third annual leadership conference at Golden Valley Country Club on Friday. Kim Valentini, founder of Smile Network International, is the keynote speaker at the event where entrepreneur panelists will include Martha of Sweet Martha’s Cookies fame and Sarah Buxton from St. Helena’s Vineyard in Napa Valley. TeamWomenMN.org has additional details.

“I think there is a need for women supporting women and networking, mentoring, helping other women reach their full potential,” Borton told me. “Mentoring and role modeling for 18- to 22-year-olds, actually, that was the part of my job which I absolutely loved. … I wanted to be able to do that at a whole different level with a different age group of people.”

In her first interview since being fired in March after 12 years as head coach at Minnesota, Borton talks about her current feelings toward the U. She had surprising answers about what broadcasts she never tunes into and the basketball essential that she doesn’t allow at her home.

My startribune.com/video also features her agreeing to do something I’m sure her former players will enjoy watching. Keep watching past the video credit.


Q: What are your feelings about the U right now?

A: I’m always going to have a special place in my heart for the University of Minnesota. Going to the Final Four, being part of history and the storied tradition of the University of Minnesota’s women’s basketball program. But to see the campus transformed — from TCF Bank Stadium to the biomedical area to Northrop’s renovation to the light rail going through campus and renovation of the Rec Center to all the new medical buildings on campus to the new student organization across from Weismann — I just feel extremely blessed to be part of the golden years of the University of Minnesota.


Q: What was your emotional state while awaiting word on whether you would continue to be the coach?

A: Very positive. Calm. That’s just me. It’s the nature of the business. We’ve got new leadership over there and a lot of times they want their own people, their own regime around them. It is what it is. Things like that happen in this profession.


Q: Does reading and hearing media speculation about whether you’ll be fired make you more anxious or sanguine?

A: That’s an interesting question. You hear about that every year for football coaches and women’s basketball coaches all around the country. … I’ve been here for 12 years in this media market. Been through a lot of successes, challenges so I am really used to the attention, either positive or negative. In our jobs we don’t have time to pay attention to the unnecessary speculations, the gossip and the social media. If you spend your time paying attention to that you’re not doing your job.


Q: Is there a U booster from whom you are surprised that you’ve heard nothing since your dismissal?

A: [Extended laughter] Booster or people you thought were your friends? Or in your close circle? You know what — I’m not surprised by anything. I’ve been through a lot of challenges since I’ve been here at the University of Minnesota. I think the people you think are in your big circle of friends, when things like this happen your circle gets really small.


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