Work never stops for UH long-snapper Noah Borden
At UH, practice and more practice has made Noah Borden perfect as the Rainbow Warriors’ long snapper, with a remarkable 254 snaps without a miscue over three years spread across the punt, extra-point and field-goal units.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
The day’s sweltering football practice has concluded and most of the 100-plus players and coaches are well into their walk back across the University of Hawaii’s lower campus to the air-conditioned locker room and offices.
All except for Noah Borden and a handful of others who regularly stay to run laps up the grassy incline behind Cooke Field.
“There’s always something you can do to be better,” Borden says after catching his breath.
It is a credo that Borden has taken to heart, not only in football but in life.
At UH, practice and more practice has made him perfect as the Rainbow Warriors’ long snapper, with a remarkable 254 snaps without a miscue over three years spread across the punt, extra-point and field-goal units.
In life he and his wife, Shayna, manage to fit in a variety of community service efforts, from Special Olympics to fishpond revivals and elementary school visits, while raising two young daughters, ages three weeks and a year and a half.
All the while Borden, a senior from Kamehameha Schools, carries an overall 3.76 (out of 4.0) grade-point average in kinesiology and rehabilitation science and is aiming to be a four-time All-Mountain West Conference academic selection.
“He (Noah) is not only one of the best in the country at what he does on the field, but one of the best people and students,” coach Nick Rolovich says.
It is why, for a second consecutive year, the ’Bows have nominated Borden for the Wuerffel Trophy, whose national watch list he made last month.
Sometimes called the “humanitarian Heisman,” it goes to the college football player who “best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”
When Borden came to UH in 2015 following a church mission he wasn’t thinking about national awards.
“I was just hoping to find a way to get a scholarship so I could stay in school and get a degree,” he said.
He had worked as a freight loader for FedEx to accumulate enough money to pay for a semester of school as a walk-on to the football team at linebacker and long snapper.
An injury opened the way for him as a long snapper on punts. At season’s end there was an offer of a scholarship and an admonition to forget about linebacker because his presence, which would soon be spread across not only punts but extra point and field goals on special teams, made him too valuable.
It is a craft, first taught to him and his brothers by his father, Russell, that he has continued to refine.
“Even though he has what some people might consider a small role on the team, he has that desire to be the best in the country at it,” Rolovich said. “You see it in him when he’s out here running hills. When I walk into a team meeting, I see it, too, because he’s watching video of NFL long snappers on his iPad. You can see it is important to him to keep on improving.”
When Borden speaks to elementary school students, they are often mystified when he tells them he is a long snapper. “Those who don’t play football don’t know what that is,” Borden said. “When I can show them, they say, ‘Hey, that’s pretty cool.’”
At UH, Borden is putting “cool” into a position that usually rates notice only when something goes wrong.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 529-4820.