By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
FULTON, Ill. —
One of the highlights of Rick Norman’s coaching career at Fulton High School came when the school named its gymnasium “Stan Borgman Court.”
“I thought it was a great honor that he deserved to have,” Norman said. “Seeing his name on the court, I know it meant a lot to him.”
That night was special for Norman, too, because he was a key player on two teams that Borgman coached to regional titles when Illinois still played one-class basketball.
Borgman, who coached boys basketball at Fulton from 1958 to 1982, died Friday in Clinton at the age of 87.
Borgman was at the heart of many great memories for Fulton High fans. His teams won 394 games against just 215 losses during a 24-year career that included nine regional titles, one sectional crown and a trip to the Class A state quarterfinals in 1972-73.
“I played for him and had a lot of success with him,” said Norman, a first-team All-Illowa Conference player in 1969-70 and 1971-72. “Afterward, I had some opportunities to meet and talk with him about basketball.”
Norman said Borgman’s demeanor always stuck out to him.
“He never got real excited,” Norman said. “He had a calm demeanor. He was able to keep everybody on the same page in that respect.”
Borgman, who was born, grew up in Pella and went to college, there, too, came to Fulton after serving in World War II and spending stints as a coach and teacher in Hedrick and Pella. His combined coaching record at the three schools was 528-282.
“He always pushed defense with us,” Norman said. “If you have an off night on offense, you always have defense to fall back on. He always had us challenge ourselves to stop their big player, and it was always a challenge for us as players as to who would get to stop their stud.”
Norman said Borgman also convinced his players they could play against bigger schools, which they often ran up against in the postseason before Illinois went to a two-class system in basketball.
“We had some success and were able to get to sectionals,” Norman said. “It was one class when we play, but we were always able to be competitive with bigger schools, even though nobody thought we had a chance. He always we did, and we did, too,
“My senior year, he took us to Rockford (Ill.) for a holiday tournament to get exposure to playing bigger schools, so we would understand what we’d be up against. I thought that was a big step for us, being from a small town.”
Borgman earned his 500th career victory on Jan. 11, 1980, when the Steamers beat Erie 61-53. He also was elected to the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame that year.
“His outlook on life tried to tell us to be honest and have the right attitude,” Norman said. “That would carry over beyond athletics or basketball.”
There will be a visitation for Borgman from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Stan Borgman Court, with the funeral service set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Second Reformed Church in Fulton.