By Nick Giannandrea
College of the Sequoias' women's tennis team is transitioning to the leadership of a familiar face.
Chad Borkey, a program assistant the past two seasons, has been elevated to head coach, Giants' Athletic Director Brent Davis announced.
"The greatest pinnacle of anyone's coaching career is being a head coach," Borkey said. "And I'm very honored that coach Davis had faith in me to give me this job. I want to compete and have the girls have a good time. I'm really excited about it."
The 42-year-old Borkey has been a jack of all trades since arriving at COS in the fall of 2018 as a football assistant after spending the previous 12 years as a men's basketball assistant at the community college and NCAA Division II levels, including stints at Giants' rivals Fresno City and West Hills-Coalinga.
Borkey became a women's tennis assistant for COS in the spring of 2019, and is slated to join the Giants' women's basketball coaching staff for the upcoming season.
"It's great that he can step in and do this," Davis said of Borkey. "He's really good with young people, he knows how to run a program and he knows how to recruit. Those three things will help him out and serve COS well."
Borkey replaces Jay Johnson, who stepped down after 14 seasons as COS' women's tennis coach.
"We have a great opportunity to build something here," Borkey said. "Coach Johnson did a great job for many years, and I hope to build off that."
Borkey developed a passion for sports -- which led to a career in coaching -- while growing up in the Shasta County town of Burney, population 3,154.
Like many of his friends at Burney Junior and Senior High, a seventh- through 12-grade school of roughly 150 students, Borkey was a multi-sport athlete, participating in football, basketball and tennis.
After going off to college at Fresno State, a conversation back home in Burney helped point Borkey toward involvement in competitive sports. A friend from school (Robby Snelling) and his father (Larry Snelling) both suggested that Borkey try coaching. Robby Snelling is now the head football coach at Butte College, while Larry Snelling was a long-time coach in Burney before retiring.
"They explained to me that I would have a great opportunity to coach, and they said I'd be a good coach," Borkey said. "I've loved it ever since. I love the competition. I love teaching. I love seeing the joy on kids' faces when they are successful. I love all the different sports."
So Borkey became a volunteer boys basketball assistant at his alma mater for a season.
He next jumped to the community college level, spending two seasons as a men's basketball assistant at Fresno City.
Borkey would go on to assist five seasons at West Hills-Coalinga, three seasons at East Los Angeles community college and two seasons at Cal State Los Angeles, all in men's basketball.
"I think young people will want to play for him and compete for him," Davis said. "He has a positive attitude and positive energy. He's doing it for the right reasons, to help kids get through college and help them get better at their sport."
COS went 2-9 last season before the California Community College Athletic Association shut down all sports in early March because of health and safety concerns over the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The CCCAA Board of Directors voted Nov. 6 to continue forward with a contingency plan that provides a framework for a return to competition this spring.
Under the plan, women's tennis would begin practice March 27, with an 18-match season starting April 10, roughly three months later than normal.
When the Giants get rolling again, Borkey expects to field a team primarily of recruits from Visalia and the surrounding communities.
"My main thing is I want to build from our local communities," Borkey said. "We have great tennis in Visalia and at all the local schools in the area. I want local girls to be excited to come here and play tennis at COS."