Nothing seems to rattle Susan Borchardt
This season, espnW is spending time with the Stanford Cardinal and Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer, getting behind-the-scenes access to the players. Come to espnW every Friday throughout the season to get to know the Cardinal and how they live their lives off and on the court, from the start of practice to the last game of the season in March and, perhaps, into April.
STANFORD, Calif. -- Susan Borchardt was standing in the hallway of the Stanford athletic department chatting away, holding her laptop against her chest, when one of her colleagues pointed something out.
"He said, 'You realize you are rocking your computer, right?'" Borchardt said.
That would make perfect sense for the Cardinal's strength and conditioning coach. She spends significant chunks of her day with a baby in her arms.
It could be her 20-month-old son, Finley. Or one of her 5-month-old twins, son Avery or daughter Flory.
On Wednesday morning, a few days into the Cardinal's two-week break for final exams, Borchardt actually had the luxury of getting a little extra sleep.
At the pediatrician's advice, Borchardt has been working on getting her infant twins to sleep through the night. It has not been easy to listen to them cry without pulling them out of their crib, instead of coaxing them back to sleep.
But on this day, they slept until 7:45 a.m.
"Of course, then Finley was up from 12:30 until about 3," Borchardt said.
Not that she looks the least bit ruffled. She never has.
Borchardt played five seasons at Stanford from 2000-01 to 2004-05. She was a hardworking, tenacious point guard who endured two ACL injuries during her time on The Farm.
Those injuries literally changed her life. She arrived on campus as Susan King, but during her long hours of rehab she struck up a friendship with Curtis Borchardt, the star center of the men's basketball team. They married in August 2003, Curtis heading off to play his rookie season in the NBA with the Utah Jazz and Susan staying at Stanford to finish her collegiate career.
After several years spent overseas in Spain and France while Curtis played professionally -- and one brief stint for Susan with the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx -- the Borchardts have returned to their roots. They share a townhouse in Palo Alto, Calif., with their young family and their live-in nanny, a seven-minute car ride from the Stanford campus.
The main living area is littered with toys, books and baby seats. The television is playing Finley's favorite show, "Babar," saved on the DVR. When the show ends, the DVR asks, "Would you like to delete?"
"No, I would not like to delete," Susan said. "That would be very bad."
Baby bottles are lined up on the kitchen counter behind the sink. All of them are already full with the correct measurement of formula. Just add water.
Susan has made breakfast for her guests, a mix of Greek yogurt, peanut butter, fresh berries and brown sugar.
And she already has her Christmas cards done.
"She makes it look like it's a piece of cake," said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer, who hired Borchardt in June to work with her team. "I have trouble with my two dogs and she's got all that going on.
"She had twins on a Wednesday and was back in the gym on Monday. Who does that?"
Borchardt admits she has learned to become more "go with the flow" since her babies arrived, but there's no mistaking the look of a supreme organizer.
"I've always been a very structured person," she said. "But this is good for me."
Finley sits in the high chair eating a snack before he heads out for a walk to the park with the nanny, Kellen, who is the younger sister of Curtis' sister-in-law.
The babies are quiet, contented, each taking turns falling asleep in Susan's arms -- she's pretty good at the rocking, apparently -- and Curtis is on his way out the door.
A year after having microfracture surgery on his hip, his basketball career is on hold. He is back at school at Stanford, finishing his undergraduate degree in American studies. He may return overseas after Christmas to play again.
But for now, he's back to being a student for the first time in seven years.
"I figure it was time to get that done," Curtis said. He will finish up his course work this semester but needs one more online class in the spring to complete his degree.
Will he walk in cap and gown in the June graduation ceremony?
"I don't know," Curtis said, feeling that he might be a little conspicuous with a cap on top of his 7-foot frame.
"Yes, you are," Susan said.
Curtis rides his bike to campus and heads to a class called, 10 Things: The Archeology of Design, which current Stanford women's players Jasmine Camp and Sara James also attend.
One of his assignments is to write a paper about the evolution of a consumer product. He's writing about the evolution of diapers.
"We are all about babies around here," Susan said.
Until she is all about business.
VanDerveer said she had been wanting to hire Borchardt for a while. She has extensive experience as a strength and conditioning coach. She worked for Curtis' team in Granada, Spain, for several seasons and worked the players so hard that they nicknamed her "Diablo Blanca" (the Blond Devil).
Curtis' hip injury brought them back to the States last year. The opportunity for Susan to work at Stanford brought them back to Palo Alto.
"She's an extremely hard worker and she demands the players work hard," VanDerveer said. "She knows what she's doing and she understands the basketball side of it. Plus, she understands Stanford. It's good to have someone I have such confidence in."
Not only that, but she's trained Curtis through probably every injury there is. She's a complete package.
"Everyone talks about our great recruits, but she might be our best recruit this year," VanDerveer added.
Susan is part of Stanford's sports performance staff. She is assigned to women's basketball full-time and to the synchronized swimming team two mornings a week.
She arrives on campus at 6 a.m. two days a week to work with the synchro team. On the other days, she will wake up, put Finley in the jogging stroller and take him on a run (which usually includes a stop at the local bagel shop and perhaps the park). Then she heads to school once Curtis returns home from class and Finley goes down for his nap around 10 a.m.
She typically works with a small group of basketball players in the weight room before practice begins. She has been spending a lot of time with freshmen Bonnie Samuelson and Erica Payne of late.
Payne said Borchardt not only makes her work hard, but inspires her to want to work hard.
"I am in the best shape I've ever been," Payne said. "I don't know if I could have gotten through one of our practices now if I was in the same shape I was in a year ago."
Most days, Borchardt starts the Cardinal's practice with a clipboard in one hand, tugging on the whistle around her neck with the other. She runs the team through its conditioning warm-up, a routine of jogging and stretching, and then heads to the weight room to work with injured players on keeping up their strength and stamina.
On Wednesday, however, Borchardt stayed in the gym. All of VanDerveer's assistant coaches were on the road recruiting and the coach needed her former point guard to help out.
The team ran through its warm-up and let out a collective groan when Borchardt asked them to do full squats with their arms above their heads. Five of them.
She checked in with center Sarah Boothe, who was riding a stationary bike while recovering from a foot injury, and pulled aside freshman Alex Green -- just two weeks removed from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon -- to give Green a pep talk before sending her to the weight room for an upper-body workout with an assistant conditioning coach.
On a typical day, Borchardt tries to get home by 6 p.m. She was a couple of hours later than that on Wednesday because a staff meeting pushed back her pre-practice workout with the freshmen. They worked out after practice instead.
On the Cardinal's most recent road trip, an eight-day trip to Connecticut and Ohio, Borchardt got help from her in-laws and Curtis made sure to put the babies on Skype. Her parents will come from Minnesota to help during the team's next road trip to Los Angeles at the end of the month.
She said she tries to get a lot done on the road, working ahead on training regimens, and updating her files and the website of the sports performance department.
"She is the most put-together person I know," said Cardinal senior guard Lindy La Rocque, who did one-on-one work with Borchardt for much of the summer. "If you didn't have a personal conversation with her, you would never know that she slept only two hours the night before or that she has babies waking her up every three hours.
"It speaks to who she is as a person. She is vested in us and she truly does care. But there's no joking around -- she will push you to your limit."
Just ask VanDerveer. The coach and Eileen Roche, assistant AD/director of operations for women's basketball, were working out in the hotel fitness room last month on the team's trip to Texas when Borchardt offered to give them a workout.
"I could hardly walk the next day," VanDerveer said. "I should have known better."