You won't get a better vantage point for seeing how much your son has grown as a player than as his offensive coordinator.
From Henry Borger's perspective, it's been "amazing" to watch Warren senior offensive lineman Aaron Borger progress.
Borger coaches his youngest son, Alex, in the Warren County Youth Football League. But he says it seems like yesterday he was coaching Aaron as a third-grader.
Photo by Denny Kyser
Warren senior Aaron Borger
"He came out of his shell on the football field," said Aaron's father, who has coached his son at almost every level.
After a tough freshman football season in which Aaron's Dragons won one game, Borger saw his son flip a switch.
"He started talking about how he wanted to earn a starting (varsity) position, and knowing what it would take in practice to earn a starting position," said Borger. "Finally, his sophomore year, he got a start in Franklin - the sixth or seventh game of the season.
"He went from, 'I'm not just putting time in, but I'm working for a goal,'" said his father. "Since then, he's really stepped up."
Aaron and the half-dozen other seniors on this year's team have stepped up to the point in which Warren is returning to the playoffs with brand new personnel and a new coaching staff.
"In his junior year he wanted to become a full-time starter," said Borger. "He wanted to be a team captain for his senior year."
That meant attending at least 80 percent of off-season workouts, having to maintain off-season workouts a specific number of days, and those things meant sacrificing "some family vacation time," said Borger.
It also meant having the respect of his teammates and coaches, which he earned, and becoming a leader, which he worked hard at becoming.
He earned that respect because Aaron was "not going to take the easy way out," said his father.
"Once he hit high school, he buckled down," said Borger.
"I think he knows what he wants," said his mother, Barb Phillips. "There's no doubt in my mind he's going to become what he wants to become. He has always been mature for his age, and that has helped him with his choices.
"I love watching him play football," said Barb. "I'm incredibly proud of his academic accomplishments, (but) I can't watch him in the classroom. I love watching him play football."
A little "Q&A" with Aaron Borger:
Q: Who are your parents, siblings, and what sports do you play?
A: My dad is Henry Borger and my mom is Barb Phillips; my step-mom is Christin Borger and my step-dad is Mark Phillips. I have a little brother Alex, a step-brother Alex, and a step-sister Amanda. My favorite sport is football, but I also shoot for the Warren White Trap Team and ski in the winter.
Q: Why football? How long have you played, and what's the draw to the sport?
A: I started playing football in the (Warren County Youth Football League) when I was in 3rd grade, so that makes 10 years that I've been playing. Why football - because I love the physicality, competitiveness, and the focus on the "team" rather than the individual.
Q: More specifically, I know you hosted a linemen dinner - what is it about being a lineman that you enjoy most, on both sides of the ball? And have you ever dreamed of picking up a fumble and running for a touchdown?
A: On offense, my priority is always to make sure DJ doesn't get killed. On defense, I do my best to do just that to the other team's quarterback.
Of course I've dreamed of picking up a fumble and running it in for a TD - what lineman hasn't? However, that's never going to happen because I would be doing bear crawls for a month for not just covering the ball up on a fumble. Ironically, I did have an interception in a J.V. game once that could have been a TD if it were not for my blazing speed.
Q: What type of personality is best suited to playing a lineman, and do you have that type of personality? Give me an example.
A: Aggressive personalities are always a plus for linemen. While that's not necessarily "me" outside of football, I can turn it on when I'm on the field. Bradford has always been a rival of ours and this year when we played them, I had four tackles for loss.
Q: You are a National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalist, which goes from 1.5 million to what is now 16,000... I know you are a humble young man, but what does it mean to you to be considered for such a prestigious recognition?
A: It is an honor to be recognized as a National Merit semi-finalist, but it never would have happened if my mom hadn't made me take my PSAT's my junior year. I didn't realize that National Merit Scholarships were based on your PSAT scores!
Q: I understand you were recently accepted into Penn State University. Has this also been on your radar, and what is it about Penn State that drew you to the school or its academic programs?
A: Going to Penn State has been a dream of mine since I was too young to remember. My family has deep roots at Penn State and it also happens to be one of the top science schools in the nation. We are...!
Q: Who is your inspiration and why?
A: It's really hard to pick one inspiration because I've had the privilege of some great people in my life. My grandpa Borger is obviously my inspiration for becoming a doctor because he was a physician and he always told me I could be anything I wanted to be. My grandpa Martin had the best inspirational "speeches," particularly before football games. His favorite sound bite was "knock them on their " And I would be remiss if I didn't mention my two grandmas. They both thought I would be president, play professional football and cure cancer all at the same time. Who can ask for better family support than that?
While none of my grandparents are here with us anymore, their advice and support continue to be an inspiration to me.
Q: What are your dreams for the rest of your life?
A: After graduation from Penn State, I plan on attending medical school. I haven't really decided on what kind of physician I want to be but I still have a few years to figure that out. I would like to travel. I've been to Europe twice and it has made me want to see even more of the world. And of course, the normal stuff - house, wife, kids.
Q: I am asking this question after the previous two: you are also involved with the regional-qualifying mock trial team as an attorney, which your father is. AND, you are interested in becoming a doctor, which your grandfather was. I bet that creates quite the conversation, as the two are totally unrelated on the surface. Are there aspects of both that interest you, and what might that entail? Is there a possibility you could end up as either one at this point?
A: There are definitely aspects of both that interest me, but I'm pretty certain I'll be following in my Grandpa's footsteps by becoming a doctor. I've seen the amount of paperwork my dad brings home and given my aversion to paperwork (and homework for that matter), I'm going to stick with medicine.
Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?
A: As I mentioned before, I like to ski in the winter. I participate in the Warren Area Snow Sports Club and head up to Holiday Valley with my friends any chance I get.
I shoot trap in the spring (and when I get a chance during the winter).
I like to spend a lot of my free time hanging out with my girlfriend, Ashley.
Q: Maybe I should have asked this earlier, but... tell me about the bond you have had with many of the players on your team and how football lends itself to close friendships like you have created.
A: Being a "team" sport, football naturally creates a close bond because it takes all 11 guys to make it happen on the field.
Luke has been one of my closest friends on and off the field since elementary school and it's been great playing football with him for the last 10 years.
Stewie, Texas and I have been playing on the line beside each other since 7th grade, and Cody and I started playing together in the WCYFL.
I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to be on the field with.
Q: Tell me what characteristics you received from and given to certain members of your family? Is football something you've been able to take from your father and pass on to your little brother?
A: People who know my dad think I look like him and people who know my mom think I look like her, so I think I must be a pretty good mix of both parents.
Football is something that has brought my family closer together because I share it with my dad and my little brother. I play on the line, while Alex plays running back/quarterback, but I guess I did pass my love for the game down to him. Shout out to him for recently being named a (Academic) "Top Gun " in the WCYFL!
Q: Tell me one question I should have asked and didn't, and then answer it.
A: What are your top 10 memories from playing football over the years (in order of significance)?
10. The Triple Atomic Wings
9. "Thursday starts Friday" - Coach Labesky
8. The "Luke Wortman show" every time we went to Meadville
7. Stewie's (-8) yard punt
5. The Banana Fight
4. Lineman dinners
3. "Guys, the ball's over here; guys, the ball's over here!!"
2. "Texas kick ball"
And the number 1. Best memory: Cody and the Swampfire!