Full time with the d-line: Vince Bordelon has made it his mission to teach players on and off the field


DVC football defensive line coach, Vince Bordelon, reflects on his journey from a difficult childhood to a mentor at DVC (Gustavo Vasquez/ The Inquirer).

Gabriel Agurcia

Vince Bordelon learned hardship at a young age.

Growing up on the gritty streets of Oakland and Daly City as one of several kids of a single mother, he remembers the toughest times of his life.

“When the first came around, we were happy to go to McDonald’s to eat. That was a big deal,” Bordelon recalled.

At the age of 12, Bordelon moved out to the suburbs of San Ramon with his grandparents, hoping to get a fresh start.

“I moved out to the suburbs to have the good life,” he said with a reminiscent laugh. “I wanted to get out the hood. The hood ain’t for everybody.”

Although he would eventually gravitate to football exclusively, Bordelon picked up basketball and baseball first. At California High School in San Ramon, Bordelon showcased his athletic talents.

“I was one of the first athletes at Cal High to be all-league and all-East Bay in two sports,” he said.

As for his love of football, Bordelon credits his grandfather for introducing him to the game.

“I had a grandfather, Tom Mullins,” Bordelon said. “He worked for the city of Oakland. He was an Oakland Raider season-ticket holder. So, I wanna say I started going to Raider games around five years old. I was going to games, watching games on TV. He showed me football. Taught me football.”

Like most kids, his first game experience came on neighborhood playgrounds. “I was always too big to play Pop Warner,” he said with a chuckle. “So I had to play at parks and on sandlots.”

As someone who was always big for his age, Bordelon eventually stuck to football. “As I got older in high school, because of my size, I was successful at being an offensive and defensive lineman.” Winning helped too, as he was a member of some of California High’s very first successful teams.

After graduating high school, Bordelon was immediately recruited by Ed Hall, then the head coach at DVC. He refused the invitation, choosing instead to attend San Diego Mesa College, following his mother to Southern California.

“I hated it,” he said bluntly. “I remember to this day, Coach Hall and I always talk about it: I called him, one rainy day. I came back and I was at DVC that January, in 1984. Took 22 units and became eligible right away.”

After a year at DVC, Bordelon moved on to California State University, East Bay, playing for two seasons. But it was in the classroom where he accomplished much more, and laid the foundation for his future.

“I got a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in kinesiology. So when I finished playing, coach [Hall] gave me a job coaching at DVC. But by having my master’s degree, he enabled me to teach also. So I was a part-time P.E. teacher here,” said Bordelon. It was 1987. He was just 23 years old, coaching the tackles and tight ends.

Around the same time, he got a job as a juvenile probation officer at the Alameda County Jail. This occupation, in tandem with his coaching, made Bordelon into the man he is today: a great teacher and mentor.

“I did that for 24 years. I just retired this February. So now I’m a full-time football coach. Full-time with the d-line!”

Bordelon’s mission now is graduating his players, aiding them in figuring out their life plans, and helping to shape them into better human beings and citizens.

“I work on building young men to be productive, respectful young men in society. And to be great student-athletes.”

Head coach Mike Darr spoke highly of Bordelon’s character. “These guys all know that, no matter what’s going on in their life, no matter what they’re dealing with, no matter what the challenges, they can always come to him. He’s gonna help them, he’s gonna tell it to them straight, and he’s not gonna sugarcoat anything.”

“I’ve been coaching a long time. I’ve had the opportunity to help a lot of kids. One’s a chief of police, one’s a UFC fighter, one’s a fireman. They’ve got all different types of trades. But they all come by and check on me, and see me,” Bordelon said with pride.

Bordelon treats his players as his own children: taking them out for lunch, having them over for the holidays, or simply sharing his knowledge and first-hand experiences with them.

“Some kids remember coming over to my house for dinner. A lot of the kids that are from out-of-state here at DVC, they’re coming to my house for Thanksgiving, because they don’t get to go home. I want to show the kids that aren’t from here that, you know what, someone does care about you.”

As for his own child, defensive back Akil Bordelon seems to share a relationship with his father which mirrors that of the elder Bordelon and his grandfather. “Some of my best experiences with my dad have been at home, just watching football. And on the field, just having him there. Watching me, coaching me.”

When asked what he’s accomplished in life that he’s most proud of, Bordelon immediately said, with another wide grin and laugh, “Being married 25 years. That’s a great accomplishment!”

As for the football side of things, “Getting kids on to four-year schools. That’s a big thing.”

His son can attest to that. “He’s really passionate about getting players to four-year schools. I’m really proud of that, and the way he relates to the kids,” said Akil Bordelon.

The big picture for Vince Bordelon is simple yet monumental. “I want my legacy to be that of a hard working coach who always took care of his players, was fair to his players, and was honest with his players.”