From the sports editor: Bordley didn’t let blindness stop him from a remarkable life

 

Ed Bordley (Submitted photo)

Ed Bordley knew people were bound to wonder about him going out for the Caesar Rodney High wrestling team.

After all, the freshman was blind.

But Bordley, who had already been wrestling at the Maryland School for the Blind, wasn’t too worried.

“I knew that I had as much wrestling under my belt as anybody who wrestled there,” Bordley explained in 1994. “And I knew that the competition level at the Maryland School for the Blind was pretty good.

“When I say people were skeptical, I mean it was a first for everybody. So yeah, there was some proving myself. But everybody on my team … I didn’t have to prove very much to (them) after about three weeks of practice.”

The fact that Bordley not only made the Riders’ roster but won the 167-pound state title still stands as a truly remarkable achievement.

But Bordley was just getting started.

He went to Harvard, became a lawyer and ended up with a career at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Those accomplishments were no doubt remembered proudly by Bordley’s friends and family when word came that he had died at the age of 61 on Dec. 16 in Bethesda, Md.

Former Dover High football great Mike Meade, Bordley’s cousin, called him “my hero.”

Pete Basile, Bordley’s wrestling coach at CR, remembers how tenacious the youngster was on the mat.

“He never really had any other gear except fifth,” Basile said in 2006 when Bordley was inducted into the Delaware Afro-American Hall of Fame. “He was full speed ahead all the time. He never relaxed, he never took a break. Anything we were doing he did 150 percent.

“He set the tone for a lot of the other wrestlers. I think we were a better team because of Eddie and his intensity.”

Basile said even when Bordley finished third in the state in 1975 it was pretty impressive.

“That whole year, he was a marked man,” said Basile. “He had to be even tougher than the year he won the states just to be successful at the tournament level.”

Occasionally an opponent would break contact with Bordley on the mat and try to “hide.” That tactic only motivated Bordley even more.

“I took it personally,” Bordley said in ‘94. “It would fire me up when anyone broke away. That happened in a few matches.

“But I won my first nine matches as a freshman so that kind of thing just wasn’t working.”

On Feb. 3, 1975, Bordley was named the first winner of the Fran Lore Scholarship. The award, presented by the Lower Delaware Gridiron Club, was given to a downstate athlete who didn’t let a physical issue stand in his way.

Among the people present at the banquet that night at the Dover Sheraton was former Olympic great Jesse Owens.

“It was incredible for a high school senior,” Bordley said years later. “It was a breathtaking kind of thing just to have been part of that.”

Even four decades later, Bordley’s wrestling accomplishments don’t seem any less astounding. But it was also just a prelude with what he did with the rest of his remarkable life.

Along with his Harvard degree and career in law, Bordley became a husband and father. And he continued to compete, in sports like bowling, swimming and boat racing.

He also won world titles in competitions for blind wrestlers.

Tom Bixby was the captain of Harvard’s wrestling team when Bordley was a freshman. He summed up Bordley’s life in a Harvard publication.

“Ed will be remembered for many things, including his sense of humor, his kindness, and his intelligence,” Bixby was quoted. “But mostly we will remember him for the incredible courage he displayed throughout his life in everything he did.”

Harmon’s special fan

Motivation never seems to be a problem for Duron Harmon, the CR grad who is now in his fifth season as a safety for the New England Patriots.

But Harmon will have just a little bit more to play for when the Patriots take on Jacksonville this afternoon in the AFC Championship Game.

Harmon’s eight-year-old nephew, Nic, will be at the game. Nic was diagnosed with autism when he was two.

“When he’s there, it just gives me a little boost,” Harmon was quoted on www.necn.com.

Harmon is now five-for-five in making it to conference championship games with the Patriots in his career.

That’s something he doesn’t take for granted. This year, Harmon is one of the Patriots’ captains.

“It’s definitely unbelievable,” said Harmon. “But when you’re in it, you just try to grind away. I would say the most important thing for me, although I know I’m extremely blessed to be in this position, we work to get here.

“We put a lot of work in from April all the way until now. How we practice, how we lift, how we train, how we go into the film room to study, how we stay after, how we’re here all day. We put the work in and it’s no coincidence why we’re here.”

Odds & ends

•It’s worth noting that former Wesley College quarterback Joe Callahan saw his first NFL regular-season action in the Green Bay Packers’ season finale against Detroit. Callahan completed 5-of-7 passes for 11 yards.

Those kind of stats may not put him on anybody’s fantasy-league team but it was a pretty big accomplishment for an undrafted Division III QB.

•The Delaware Interscholastic Football Coaches Association will hold its 14th annual All-State banquet on Jan. 29 at Dover Downs. Tickets are $60 and can be purchased through today at DIFCA,org.

Damon Wilson, the head coach at Bowie State for the last nine years, is reportedly a candidate for the Delaware State football job.

•Looking to get some immediate help for its defensive line, the Delaware football team has offered a scholarship to Brandan Hall, a junior-college defensive end from California. The 6-foot-3, 245-pounder is visiting Newark this weekend.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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