Preserving the values that guided his pioneer ancestors (his grandfather guided Teddy Roosevelt on Colorado bear hunts), Leroy Tracy Borah left many good and lasting marks on young men all across the nation.
His active life included service as a paratrooper during World War II, as a professional musician and as a high school and junior college teacher and coach. But his major accomplishments came during his 29 years at Western State College in Gunnison.
His achievements there earned him the reputation as one of the nation’s most respected wrestling coaches and athletic leaders. He would be humbled, but proud that his recognition by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame is one of the first to go to a person whose primary successes were in the demanding sport of wrestling.
Born March 30, 1924, in Gypsum, Colorado, he was a standout high school athlete at Eagle Valley High and then Grand Junction High, where he graduated in 1943.
Then came service as a paratrooper during World War II, and as a professional “big band” musician before he graduated from Colorado State University in 1950.
After six more years in Eastern Colorado (at Segwick and Haxton high schools and Northeastern Junior College) he joined the staff at Western as physical education teacher, assistant football coach and head wrestling coach.
During his active years, he coached the defensive line for 12 teams that won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships and guided the athletic department as AD for 18 years. He also influenced countless students in his physical education classes.
But his first love was the sport of wrestling. The record of his success on the mats is impressive: …Two NCAA College division national championship teams (1963 and 1964), …Seven individual national champions and 30 individual All-Americans, …40 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference champions.
He also started the Rocky Mountain Wrestling Camp, the nation’s second camp of its kind, which in its 35 years, has attracted literally thousands of young athletes from around the nation. His contributions have been noted before. He was: …Member of the NCAA Wrestling National Rules Committee, …President of the Division II Wrestling Coaches Association, …Inductee into the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame (1990), …Inaugural inductee into the Western State College Mountaineer Sport Hall of Fame (1995), …and the NCAA Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame (1996).
While the circumstances of his death might have seemed incongruous to some who knew only the rough exterior, those who knew him the best were not at all surprised that he was busy that day caring for his garden flowers. And the impact of his life on thousands of former members of his classes and teams was fitly demonstrated when they and other friends filled Mountaineer Bowl, Western’s football stadium, in a memorial in his honor.
That influence will endure, through the efforts of hundreds of young men in all professions—including at least 145 coaches who have worked at all levels across the country—who learned about loyalty, discipline, and uncommon hard work at the feet of Tracy Borah.
Leroy Tracy Borah left many good and lasting marks on young men all across the nation.