October 21, 2021

Basketball Program Mourns Loss of Former Athletic Trainer Mike Bordner


COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State Men’s Basketball program mourns the loss of longtime athletic trainer Mike Bordner, who died following a courageous battle with cancer.

Bordner spent 33 years (1967-2000) as a full-time athletic trainer at Ohio State, working with football, baseball and primarily with the men’s basketball program. He retired in 2000 after 28 years caring for the men’s basketball student-athletes. He was the protégé of Ernest R. Biggs who served as the first Athletic Trainer at Ohio State.

A Columbus, Ohio, native, Bordner worked for five men’s basketball coaches – Fred Taylor, Eldon Miller, Gary Williams, Randy Ayers and Jim O’Brien.

Bordner graduated from Grandview High School and Ohio State with a degree in education in 1969, served as the athletic trainer for the USA Basketball squad that competed at the World Cup Games in 1979 while also acting as the head athletic trainer for the Big Ten All-Star team that toured Japan in 1995. He received an honorary Varsity O Hall of Fame award in 2000.  In addition to his work in Athletics at Ohio State, Bordner taught and mentored countless athletic trainers and athletic training students who entered the profession.

Mike is survived by his wife Gale, son Scott Bordner (Jane) and their children Brendan, Cameron, Ashton and Damon; his  daughter Alison Elsner and her children Zevin and Tristan.

The family will hold a private ceremony at a later date. They ask in lieu of flowers, a donation in his name to Kobacker House in Columbus or The Ohio State University Athletic Training Support Fund (checks can be made  to Ohio State University, Fund #317404 in the memo line, Fawcett Center, 2400 Olentangy River Road 43210)

“This news cuts deep. Bords was a vital part of our team’s success on and off the court. My prayers go out to him and his family.” – Jim Jackson (1990-92)

“Mike (Bords),

Thank you for the consummate and professional care you provided for me and the hundreds of other Buckeye ballers, athletes, and staffers for the multiple decades you did so. Consistent, faithful, funny (in a quiet and sly way), and a credit to your family and profession, and a gift to us Buckeyes.

I believe you tracked down my dislodged tooth in ’81 and gave it a chance to be saved for a while. Other than that and some knee tendinitis, I do not recall needing much care, but I do recall you always being there for us. Calm, fair, firm, laughing and smiling some, and getting the job done. Thank you.

I am saddened by the cruel way that cancer has invaded this season of life for you and your family, and pray God’s peace, comfort, and strength for you all in this time of transition.

May the Lord God bless you and keep you, and shine his light upon you and be gracious to you, and turn his face to you and give you peace.” – Clark Kellogg (1980-82)

“I think I speak for many athletes when I say the team’s athletic trainer is one of the most important staffed positions in all of sports. When athletes are injured, it can be a vulnerable time as a player, especially mentally. I personally want to sincerely thank Mike Bordner for the four years of caring and instilling confidence in me as a player and most importantly for the relationship, we developed and maintained after my OSU days.  Love you Bords.” – Ron Stokes (1982-85)

“Bords was truly heaven sent. Not only was he a great athletic trainer but he was a great person. As a basketball player at Ohio State, I felt so protected and cared for by him each day.  Every time I came to practice or suited up for a game, I always knew I was in good hands. He helped a lot of players get through their hard times. I think the world of him and I’m truly blessed to be able to have had Bords in my life.” – Jason Singleton (1996-99)

“Mike Bordner carried on the extraordinary legacy of Ernie Biggs, who established Ohio State Athletic Training as a world-class support unit for Ohio State student-athletes. Bords was a mentor of mine along with so many others who have gone on to serve student-athletes at all levels across the United States. Ohio State and the athletic training profession extends its thoughts and prayers to Mike and his family.” – Doug Calland, Ohio State Associate AD – Sports Performance

“I speak for the hundreds of undergraduate athletic training students who learned the science of sports medicine from Mike Bordner, but more importantly, we learned the art of sports medicine from him.  It was the honor of a lifetime to follow in his footsteps as the Men’s Basketball Athletic Trainer at Ohio State. His legacy lives on through the student-athletes, coaches and athletic trainers whom he influenced over his career at OSU.”  – Vince O’Brien, Ohio State Athletic Trainer (1993-2017)

“Arriving at Ohio St. as part of a new staff while relocating a wife and very young daughters, Mike was well aware that coaching a team was a family affair. He always extended himself well beyond the training room. Deana and I will always be appreciative of his caring off the court.” – Rick Boyages, Big Ten Associate Commissioner for Men’s Basketball and former Ohio State assistant coach

“Bords, like so many others that have supported Buckeye student-athletes, represents the best of OSU. I have been fortunate enough to reconnect with him over the past few weeks and it is evident that he loves his wife, his family, Ohio State and all of the former players individually. It’s something I felt as a player and I feel even more now.” – Kwadjo Steel (1997-00)

“I’ll never forget talking with Mike Bordner in the training room before starting the last game in St. John Arena history. As he calmed my nerves, I could not help but think about the huge role he played in the arena’s history, always going far beyond his duties as our team trainer. He listened, he advised, he encouraged. Above all, he cared about all of us as people first. He personified what makes being a part of the Ohio State University basketball family so special.” – Eric Hanna (1995, 1997-98)

“Mike “Bords” Bordner has always been the epitome of a team player to me.  He often served as a very honest and caring adult and leader to turn to as a young student-athlete. My life is better because of Bords!” – Shamar Herron (1998-99)  

“Mike was the same caring hard-working guy from the first day I met him until the day I left Ohio State. He was consistent in character and you truly knew he loved the players, coworkers and his job. Mike treated us all like family and it is an honor to call him a friend. Thank you Mike for sharing countless memories at The Ohio State University.” O…H – Ken Johnson (1998-01)

“Mike thank for taking care of all the aches and pain while I played for the Buckeyes. You always listened to the players, even when the day was not going well or you did not feel well. We will miss you man. RIP my friend.” Buckeye for life – Derick Polk (1982-83)

“Bords was one of those old school trainers who gave us toughness. There was a difference between if you felt sorry for yourself or if you were actually injured. He tried to protect all of us and was in the foxhole battling every day! I think beating Minnesota for the 2000 Big Ten Championship up at the Barn was a bit more special. It was his last year and he never forgot about the fight in 1972. That’s how loyal he was and how much loved his guys!” – Devon Smith (1999-00)