Borseth Retiring From Green Bay

Photo courtesy of Green Bay Athletics

After 42 years of coaching, 37 of them as a head coach at the NCAA level, and 21 years at the helm of the Green Bay Phoenix, over two stints, Kevin Borseth announced he is retiring from coaching. 

In a press conference on Wednesday morning, university chancellor Michael Alexander, athletic director Josh Moon, and Borseth made the announcement to local media with fans and players in attendance as well. Alexander opened the event talking about the profound impact Borseth has had at Green Bay, announcing that today, was a celebration.  Alexander went on to say there will multiple celebrations between now and June 30th, the date Borseth officially retires. He will be wrapping up the end of year activities, leading the team through end of year workouts, the annual Steak Fry fundraiser and golf outing fundraiser.  One of those celebrations will be naming the street behind the Kress Center as Kevin Borseth Way. 

Plenty of emotion went into Borseth’s remarks, having to stop several times to fight through tears.  Among Borseth’s opening remarks, he started with a poignant statement: “To wake up tomorrow and know I’m not the head coach… it’s going to hurt”. Looking back, Borseth next made mention to his childhood “All I ever wanted as a kid was keys to a gym” going on to say how they would break windows just to get in, before joking “Now that I finally have ’em, I sure hope these guys don’t take away my keys.” 

As he went along, Borseth frequently mentioned the importance of the players in the program:  “I learned far more from them than they ever learned from me” and later “A lot of coaches will tell you it’s the name on the front of the jersey not the back that matters most, but I don’t think that’s true.  I cared most about the players and the name on the back.”  

Coach Borseth was asked what led to the decision to retire by a member of the assembled media, joking he knew forgot to mention something from his notes before saying “You have to look at age, I’m going to be 70 in June, and it became hard to recruit with players knowing I’d be retiring soon,” saying he didn’t want to completely drain the program before moving on and wants it to stay at a high level. He went on to say it was difficult to walk away knowing how good the team that will be returning next year but that he’s been in this situation before: When I left Green Bay the first time, we had a really good team, Mike and Matt gave them a little extra “sauce” and took them to a Sweet 16, and I feel that I have done everything I can with this team and I’m excited to see what the next coach can do with this group.  I hope they let me be part of the process.”

Green Bay’s success has been no secret of the Borseth era, Speaking on the high level of the program, Borseth referred to The Gambler: You don’t start to counting until the dealing is done, and the dealing is done.  We inherited a great team from Carol, and you don’t want to have too much pride. Pride is one of the deadly sins.  But I would always tell my players, the banners are ghosts of the past and all the alumni want the team to continue to succeed.” Borseth also spotlighted the run of 20 straight Horizon League titles and how impressive that was, joking that the only thing that seemingly stop the program was COVID.  

Later in the press conference, when talking about the changes in women’s college basketball since he started, Borseth referred back to going to his days at Michigan Tech when he and an assistant would go to Lakeland College for summer league games and try to find the best players.  “They used to call us Wisconsin Tech for how many girls from the area we’d recruit,” saying it would start with high school seniors, then juniors started getting to that talent level, then sophomores and before he knew it, middle schoolers were getting to incredibly high talent levels. He mentioned Caitlin Clark being a big part of that evolution and the growth of the women’s game as a whole. Borseth also credits Green Bay for a lot of that success and growth in this region, for bringing in the right players and winning and the public, specifically younger players to want to be the next piece of the puzzle.  A big piece of the success Borseth had was due to the talent in the state, with a consistent base of the roster being from within Wisconsin and surrounding areas, many of whom mention going to Green Bay games as kids and wanting to be the next piece.  

Borseth will leave coaching as the 16th winningest D1 Women’s Basketball Coach of all time, with a record of 821-316. Borseth led Green Bay to 13 NCAA Tournament appearances in his tenure and was a 9 time Horizon League Coach of the Year.  When asked about his legacy, Borseth answered “I would hope the players felt that I gave them confidence and saw them on a level and gave them confidence to rise to that level.”

He wrapped up with talking about how special Green Bay is “Green Bay is special, I didn’t think I’d leave the UP because I like the two lane roads but Green Bay was close to home, it’s where the two lane roads end and freeways begin. Close enough to home and my roots,” before ending with “Green Bay is home.” 

Moon announced that the coaching search will begin today but also reminded everyone today is for celebrating Borseth.  Moon mentioned Borseth will have input in the search as both made mention that it’s important to keep this group together and it’s important to find someone who understands and embraces the community of Green Bay.  As mentioned above, while Borseth is stepping away from the coaching position, he does still hope to be around the program in the upcoming years.

In traditional Borseth fashion, he ended with a short and sweet “Thanks for coming out and Go Phoenix.”  You can watch the full press conference at the link below:

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