Other Free Encyclopedias » Famous Sports Stars » Baseball » Ila Borders Biography - Dreamed Of Pitching Professionally, Played In Men's Minor League, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments

Ila Borders - Dreamed Of Pitching Professionally

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When ten-year-old Borders announced her goal of becoming a professional baseball player, her father only encouraged her. With his help, she joined a local boys' Little League. It was here that Borders first faced resistance to crossing baseball's gender barrier. She felt that the Little League tried to keep her out by changing the sign-up times. Borders managed to join nevertheless, and in her first game she proved her mettle by striking out the first six batters.

It was Phil Borders who encouraged his daughter to play in a men's semipro league, and who forged an ID so the 14-year-old girl could play with men in their 20s. In junior high school, she sued for the right to play with the boys. She also played in high school, though she had to switch schools when one coach wouldn't let her join the boys' team. Upon graduating from high school at Whittier Christian College, Borders became the first woman to receive a college baseball scholarship.

Borders attended Southern California College (SCC), a small Christian college in Costa Mesa, on a baseball scholarship from 1994 to 1996. Playing for the SCC Vanguards, she became the first woman to pitch, and to win, in a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) game. The five-foot-ten player pitched a 70-mile-per-hour fastball, lagging a little behind other college pitchers' speeds. She slowly gained more speed, but compensated in the meantime with changeups and curveballs. But improving her game was not the only challenge; Borders also faced sexism and discrimination, especially from opposing teams. "I've been spit on, had beer thrown on me and been sworn at, and was hit 11 times out of 11 at bats while in college," she told Seattle Times. Meanwhile, the sports media had gotten wind of the ponytailed pitcher's goal to play professional baseball, and journalists began following her unusual career with fascination. When throngs of journalists showed up at her games, she warned them to treat her as a pitcher first, and not as a female.

In her final year of college, Borders left SCC because she felt her teammates did not support her. She completed her degree at Whittier College, where she became the first woman to pitch in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III baseball. Borders received her bachelor's degree in kinesics, the study of the body's movements. Later she would pursue a master's degree that would qualify her for a career in either sports psychology or sports management.

Ila Borders - Played In Men's Minor League [next]

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