Nichols Institute for Women’s Leadership Hosts Conversation with Coach Pam Borton

BY JENNA MCASSEY ’19

Pam Borton, former coach of the University of Minnesota’s women’s basketball team, is an inspiring executive coach who travels the country educating others on the value of leadership.

On Jan. 30, I had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Borton in the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) suite at Nichols College. I took part in a discussion with her regarding women’s leadership in today’s society. After coaching 27 years of women’s basketball, she decided to switch gears and shift her coaching focus. Today, she helps companies with their professional development needs, has developed a leadership academy for girls in grades 5-12, and has established two non-profit organizations.

Ms. Borton has had an extremely successful coaching career for the Division I basketball program at the University of Minnesota. In 2002 she became the head coach of the Gophers and excelled in her career having a “236-152 regular season game record and a 305-198 total games career coaching record,” as reported by gophersport.com. This coaching opportunity not only gave Ms. Borton the opportunity to continue to pursue her passion for basketball, but also allowed her to use her leadership skills to help other people and grow as a person herself.

Throughout our lunch, we talked about issues that are not only relevant on the Nichols College campus today, but are also noticeable within society. Ms. Borton shared that the keys to being a good leader is “confidence, resilience, voice and taking risks.” We touched on the fact that as a female in the workplace, or even in general, there are many things that women struggle with, such as sexism in and out of the workplace.

As I and five other women talked in a round-table format, one of the questions posed to Ms. Borton was, “Why do women always feel they need to say ‘yes’ to everything?”

Borton replied: “As females, we say ‘yes’ and take on too much because we always feel the need to prove ourselves.”

I appreciated and understood her answer because I think this is something a lot of females can relate to and struggle with.

Ms. Borton explained that as individuals we need to know what is important to ourselves and to understand our own wants and needs.

“We need to move toward a culture where women are supporting other women,” she said.

This statement is extremely relevant today in society because women of any age should always strive to support each other.

Here at Nichols College, we are fortunate to have the Institute for Women’s Leadership, which encourages and fosters female leadership. The IWL is extremely involved with Nichols students, both male and female., IWL staff provide knowledge, host events, and create workshops to introduce the importance of female leadership to the student body. This not only helps students thrive during their four years of college, but also allows students to gain skills and confidence for the future.

Jenna McAssey is a junior at Nichols College and an intern in the Nichols Office of Marketing and Communications.

Coach Pam Borton Inspires Nichols Female Students, Faculty, Staff

BY ASHLEY DALLAIRE ‘18

Pam Borton, the winningest women’s basketball coach for University of Minnesota and current president and CEO of Borton Partners visited Nichols College this week. She discussed her experiences as a coach and how we all can be successful—no matter what obstacles we face.

Borton attended a lunch earlier this month with faculty and staff, including Rachel Ferreira, director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership; Charlie Robert, visiting assistant professor for sports management; Beth Gionfriddo, assistant director of student involvement; and Lorraine Martinelle, director of public relations and social media.

To kick off the conversation, Ferreira asked Borton if she noticed any specific patterns or trends that hold women back from advancing in their careers.

“Ourselves,” Borton replied.

“As I have coached both men and women, I have seen that women lack confidence, don’t take as many risks as men, and are scared of challenging themselves in fear of making a mistake,” she added.

Using her 27 years of coaching experience, Borton has made it her mission to develop leaders as well as empower women to reach their full potential. She has two non-profit “passion projects” that inspire, encourage, and develop tomorrow’s female leaders. TeamWomenMN and Empower were created in hope of building an environment where women are supporting each other—from grade school to boardroom.

Resilience is the capacity to quickly recover from difficulties—or, in other words, toughness. Borton said that resilience is the key to getting out of your comfort zone, which is how we grow as individuals. During the discussion, she touched on how women tend to say “yes” to requests of them, and she admitted that one of her resolutions was to say “no” more often.

“Women tend to feel like they have to say ‘yes’ because it is in our DNA to want to help and improve ourselves,” she said. “We have to learn what is important to us and ask ourselves why we are doing something.”

Borton explained that figuring out our “why” is important to a woman’s success. When she is working with clients, she refers herself to their “thought partner.”

“My clients have the answers; I just ask the right questions, which in turn makes them critically think,” she said.

Everything that was discussed at that lunch resonated with every person there whether they realized it or not. Toward the end of the discussion, Professor Robert said,” I think life skills are needed alongside the reading, writing, and arithmetic they teach today.”

Borton was inspiring, and everything she said to the group was comforting.

Yes, comforting is not the first word you would describe Borton—she is strong, respected, and was feared on the court—but she let her audience know that they are not alone. She let them know that there is a reason behind all of their struggles, feelings, and mindsets. And before women put the blame on someone else, they need to first look at inward. Women need to love themselves and know that they can do anything they set our minds to.

Ashley Dallaire is a Nichols College senior and a public relations intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications.

Produced by the Bison for the Nichols College Community