A state high school wrestling champion in Delaware, Harvard graduate Ed Bordley refused to allow any obstacle slow down his careers... academically, athletically or professionally.
When Ed Bordley first came to Harvard, the state champion wrestler's toughest opponent was no grappler from a rival school. It was Expository Writing.
Accustomed to academic success, Bordley thought he was prepared for the rigor at Harvard; so prepared that he was expecting not to have time to wrestle. Bordley matriculated at Harvard solely for academic purposes and tackled the challenge by devoting what he thought was the time and effort necessary to succeed. He was, therefore, shocked when the grade on his first expository writing paper was a mere B. "I thought, 'I gave my very best effort to this and it was only good enough for a B?' I took that as a personal insult."
Bordley -- who lost his sight as a 10-year-old and became one of the best wrestlers and students in Delaware -- was not one to back down from a challenge. Schoolwork for him took longer and was more difficult because he had to rely on volunteer 'readers' to read his textbooks and assignments to him. Nonetheless he redoubled his effort, determined to prove that he could be an A student at Harvard as he had been back at Caesar Rodney High in Camden-Wyoming, Delaware. Ultimately he did earn A's in his major, Romance Languages, but also came to accept that, "a B at Harvard was pretty good."
As Bordley became more comfortable with the academic demands of college life he also began tentatively exploring the possibility of embarking on a collegiate wrestling career. He first joined some team members for unofficial preseason weight training sessions and was reassured by team veterans that combining academics and athletics was manageable. Bordley needed only a gentle push. "I knew that if there was any way I could wrestle at Harvard that I wanted to do it."
Despite his initial concerns he learned to balance the athletic and academic demands of life as an Ivy League athlete. Once on the team, Bordley discovered that weaving athletics in to his college life actually improved his academics. "We all knew what our top priority was even as we attempted to become better athletes. I became a better student than I would have otherwise."
Bordley wrestled No. 1 in his weight class throughout his Harvard career. The team enjoyed a spirited rivalry with Yale and Bordley proved himself a solid contributor. His senior season started promisingly as he won the first tournament of his college career. But a shoulder injury early in the regular season truncated what probably would have been his best season. He briefly considered, but decided against, a medical redshirt that would have extended his eligibility to wrestle the following year. He already had his next moved planned.
Bordley graduated in 1979 and was awarded a prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship. He didn't have to travel far to use it having decided to stay in Cambridge to attend Harvard Law School.
Upon graduating in 1982 Bordley embarked on what has been a long career working in various units of the Department of Justice. He first managed a center for blind attorneys, before taking a position with the Drug Enforcement Agency for more than a decade. Since 1998 he has worked for the U.S. Marshals Service, developing a specialty in the field of Freedom of Information and privacy.
What Bordley appreciates most about his current job is the variety. His forays in to the courtroom give him opportunities to tap into the competitive and aggressive aspects of his nature that made him such a formidable wrestler. It is important for him to find such outlets since wrestling is no longer a viable option. As he puts it, "when wrestling is over, it's over." But like many athletes he has missed the thrill and satisfaction of competing, especially after coming from a state in which wrestling was such a major sport it was not uncommon to have more than 2,000 spectators at his high school duals.
For more than a decade he was an avid participant in bowling competitions for blind athletes, advancing as far as the national level. He has since allowed his involvement in bowling to taper off but one wonders what pastime he will tackle next.
What ever it is, he is sure to pursue the same level of excellence he has achieved in his academic, athletic and career paths to date. "All my life" he says, "I've always had people around me who told me what I could do?not what I couldn't do."
— Meredith Rainey Valmon